Chris O’Dowd is stuck in traffic. The Irish comedic actor (photo, left) known for his roles in British sitcom “The IT Crowd” and Hollywood flick “Bridesmaids” is the brogue behind a video campaign for Tourism Ireland that aims to convince Londoners to get out of Dodge and visit nearby Ireland as Olympics tourists flood their crowded city.
It all started with a tweet. O’Dowd – a proud native of Boyle, Ireland – commented on Twitter a couple months ago that he ought to be the voice of Tourism Ireland. At the time, the organization just happened to be planning the second chapter of its Olympics-related campaign, a humorous video O’Dowd soon agreed to narrate. He also makes a brief appearance in the “Escape the Madness” video as “your man from that film.”
The video – viewed more than 100,000 times three days after launching Tuesday – follows the rapid-paced escapades of the frazzled “Office Boy” and his opponent “Your Man” as they race to see who can get to their intended destinations first. Office Boy is tasked with drinking a latte in his cubicle, while the much more relaxed Your Man is en route to Ireland to “sup a pint.”
A wild goose chase ensues as the worker bee struggles to make it to his London office. Unable to get on a tourist-packed double-decker bus, he resorts to bike riding and a raucous pedicab ride. Meanwhile, our man jumps on a plane, and arrives in Ireland where he takes in much calmer surroundings, even posing with farm animals for what O’Dowd dubs a “classic sheep shot.”
“He’s patriotic enough to do [the video] for free which was great,” said Mark Henry, Tourism Ireland’s central marketing director, speaking via phone with ClickZ from Belfast. “He’s all for flying the flag.” O’Dowd also changed his Twitter description recently to read simply, “In traffic.”
Tourism Ireland worked with its global ad agency Publicis Groupe to develop the video and an earlier iteration of the campaign seen in London Underground stations, said Henry. “We already planned the outdoor element of the campaign earlier in the year…It was only about two months ago [we sat down with Publicis] and asked, ‘How can we push this further,'” he said. “We were having the conversations with Publicis the very week that Chris had the tweet [about being the voice of Ireland] and we came up with the idea of the video.”
— chris o’dowd (@BigBoyler) July 18, 2012
Though the island’s official tourism agency can’t legally mention the Olympics name in its ads, the event presented an opportunity for marketing the country to potential visitors living nearby who might want to escape the swarms of attendees. “One of the opportunities is the transport chaos happening in London as we speak and the influx of spectators,” said Henry. “There’s lots of question marks as to whether the transport system can cope,” he added, noting, “If you can’t get to work, here’s a better way to spend your time.”
Another brand that goes unnamed in the video: Guinness. While the Ireland traveler ventures to a pub for a pint of stout (“Let ‘er settle, boy.”), there’s no reference made to the iconic Irish brew. Instead, O’Dowd quips in cutesy slang, “Can I have a Guinney Guinney blum blums?”
“In this particular instance, we decided to leave it unbranded,” said Henry.
Along with promoting the video through the Tourism Ireland Facebook and Twitter accounts, the agency is paying to promote a tweet about the video from O’Dowd’s @BigBoyler account. Facebook and YouTube ads are also in the mix, as is a bit of non-organic seeding from a viral video firm.
The organization also focused on social media and developing search-optimized content while promoting Titanic Belfast, a tourist experience dedicated to the construction of the ill-fated vessel. Between the Titanic effort and the Olympics-related campaign,” said Henry, “We see this as a model that we’ll be increasingly investing in.”