Photo-Crashing Squirrel Leads to Social Media Win for Banff Lake Louise Tourism

Tue Sep 8, 2009 2:42pm EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

More than 82 Million Impressions around the world

BANFF, AB, Sept. 8 /PRNewswire/ - Quick thinking and a well-established social
media program helped Banff Lake Louise Tourism (BLLT) turn the latest global
internet sensation into a marketing dynamo for Banff National Park.
"Two years ago, we launched an integrated social media program including the
weekly Real Banff video report, a blog, Facebook page and Twitter profile,"
said Julie Canning, president and CEO of Banff Lake Louise Tourism. "When the
"Crasher Squirrel" literally popped out of nowhere, our social media team was
ready and able to quickly take advantage of the opportunity."
Within hours of the Banff Crasher Squirrel taking off as the newest internet
meme, BLLT had created a promotional YouTube video, the @Banff_Squirrel on
Twitter, a search engine marketing campaign based on the squirrel keyword, a
Banff Crasher Squirrel Facebook page, and had "crashed" the homepage of the
BLLT website with the curious rodent.
"The power of social media allows smaller destination marketing organizations
to compete on the world stage -- provided they act fast. Those who are nimble
can leverage communication opportunities like this to their advantage. Banff
jumped on this opportunity without hesitation and the immediate results have
been exceptional," said Greg Klassen, senior vice president, the Canadian
Tourism Commission.
As the squirrel meme took off, BLLT also leveraged the efforts of developers
who independently created applications to add the Banff Crasher Squirrel to
Twitter avatars, "Quip-art" to superimpose the squirrel on websites and United
Playco's Banff Crasher Squirrel iPhone application. BLLT negotiated with
Quip-Art and Playco to include links to BLLT's website, create a customized
iPhone app for BLLT use and include information on Banff and Lake Louise
within the applications.
BLLT then used the applications as a social media pitch to journalists and
online influentials around the world, photo-crashing the Banff Squirrel onto
each target's website. The pitches extended the news cycle and resulted in
coverage on leading blogs including CNBC's Funny Business, National Geographic
Traveler, Canada.com, the Twitter Blog, and many others.
"The challenge wasn't to make the Banff Squirrel become more 'viral'", said
Steve Wright, president of Arcade Consulting, BLLT's social media agency. "The
real task was to harness the momentum of the Squirrel to direct attention back
to Banff as a tourism destination."
BLLT also mobilized its tourism partners in Banff and Lake Louise to create
squirrel-themed promotional packages, promoted the squirrel via the
organization's blog and even arranged to have a pop-up cutout of the squirrel
added to an outdoor billboard in Alberta.
BLLT's quick response was rewarded when the tourism organization's YouTube
video was featured on broadcast news reports including CNN's Situation Room
and a wide range of other US-based channels.
The @Banff_Squirrel on Twitter has attracted more than 1,000 followers and the
"squirrel's" tweets have reached more than 385,000 Twitter users, placing
@Banff_Squirrel in the top 98 percentile of Twitter users just two weeks after
launch.
"Banff Crasher Squirrel: The Movie" has been viewed more than 35,000 times,
placing it among the most popular travel videos for the week in many countries
including Canada, USA, UK, Poland and Australia. The video was also featured
among the Top 10 of over Crasher Squirrel 1300 submissions on Buzzfeed.com,
the site where the meme first took off.
In total, BLLT estimates that the Banff Crasher Squirrel resulted in more than
82 million impressions on TV, in print and online around the world, popping up
in more than 70 countries including Japan and China to India, the UK, South
Africa and Australia.

Photo to accompany release
http://www.banfflakelouise.com/content/download/13475/167595/

About Banff Lake Louise Tourism

Banff Lake Louise Tourism is a destination marketing organization for the Town
of Banff, Community of Lake Louise and Banff National Park. Supporting over
800 businesses, our mission is to engage visitors in unrivalled, remarkable
experiences with our membership. For travel media inquiries, please contact
Tulene Steiestol at tulene@banfflakelouise.com, www.banfflakelouise.com.

SOURCE  Banff Lake Louise Tourism

Tulene Steiestol, Senior Manager, Travel Media Relations, Office: (403)
762-0290
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