Consejo Promocion Turistica De Mexico/ CPTM Promo, Case study MEXICO: RESETTING THE MEDIA DIALOGUE by Ogilvy & Mather USA

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Industry Destinations (Countries & Places)
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United States
Agency Ogilvy & Mather USA
Released March 2011

Credits & Description

Category: Best Use of Media Relations
Executive Vice President: Jennifer Risi (Ogilvy Public Relations)
Vice President: Joshua Levin (Ogilvy Public Relations)
Account Director: Tara Mullins (Ogilvy Public Relations)
Account Director: Rachael Rees (Ogilvy Public Relations)
Account Executive: Kimberly Ryan (Ogilvy Public Relations)
Assistant Account Executive: Kimberly Miller (Ogilvy Public Relations)
Assistant Account Executive: Kelsey Garvey (Ogilvy Public Relations)
Media Influence: Rachel Mcpherson (Ogilvy Public Relations)
Media placement: Media Relations - - 1 March 2011
Media placement: General PR - - 1 March 2011

Summary of the Campaign
Mexico has long conjured images of exotic beauty, ancient civilization and cities rich in culture and gastronomical delights. But a bloody drug war, stemming from the government’s determination to free Mexico from the stranglehold of the drug cartels, drastically altered Mexico’s image overnight, to its detriment. Media coverage sensationalised the violence, portraying the country as unsafe to work, live and even visit.

The Government of Mexico sought to counteract the hyperbolic headlines with facts, consistently promoting Mexico’s good-news stories. By resetting the media dialogue and sharing the untold story of Mexico, we ignited the renaissance of Mexico’s reputation while bringing tourists and foreign investors back to its shores.

By aggressively engaging global media and using key Mexican officials as spokespeople throughout US media tours, the campaign isolated the violence issue and assured the public that Mexico was safe for travel. Stemming from the media tour, the US State Department narrowed travel warnings.

Global media relations efforts generated 350 media interviews, more than the previous 3 years combined, and research indicated the tone of coverage shifted from 'negative/neutral' to 'neutral/positive'. A tourism revival and investment resurgence have boosted Mexico’s economy despite a global recession, even bringing cruise ships back to Mexican ports.

The Situation
Once a popular tourist destination known for its luxurious beaches and rich culture, Mexico’s image dramatically changed overnight to the battlefield of an ugly cartel war. Forgotten were the stunning landscapes and heritage cuisine, as the media sensationalised the entire country as a god forsaken war zone, to the detriment of Mexico’s tourism sector and investment reputation. The Government of Mexico asked for help in countering headlines of beheadings and drug seizures which dominated the 24/7 news cycle. The team combated this phenomenon with the simple truth, promoting positive accounts of Mexico’s tourism offerings to restore its reputation and economy.

The Goal
Research indicated that key audiences’ perceptions of Mexico were in a downward spiral and the bombardment of negative messages through global media channels perpetrated doubt and insecurity in the minds of influential investors, policymakers and the global traveling public.

Tasked with alerting perception and modifying behavior by turning the tide on media coverage and showing the danger was isolated, we aimed to reset the media dialogue and influence tourists and businesses to return to Mexico, by proactively engaging a powerful army of advocates to speak on behalf of Mexico as well as leveraging Mexico’s government officials to directly address misperceptions.

The Strategy
Mitigating the negative media sentiment and establishing a positive story for Mexico demanded a deep understanding of how people think, and how they form ideas and opinions. We discovered that it was not simply about what Mexico said publicly, but more importantly, what people heard that mattered.

Government communication needed to be complemented and supplemented with trusted, likeable, 'people like me', to share opinions and convince tourists and business professionals to return to Mexico. We aimed not only to correct distortions but to tell the complete story of a modern, forward-thinking country. The team implemented an aggressive media relations campaign to change the image of Mexico both within the media and among American consumers, influencers and policy makers.

Positioning the Government of Mexico's Tourism Board as the global source for journalists seeking to write stories about Mexico was essential to determining headlines and the tone of coverage.

From Los Angeles to London, Miami to Madrid, we helped to transform top Mexican government officials, including Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism, Gloria Guevara, and the Mexico Tourism Board’s Chief Operating Officer, Rodolfo Lopez-Negrete, to become Kissinger-esque shuttle diplomats during a 14-city global media tour.

Forums like the World Tourism and Travel Summit, the US Chamber of Commerce and the Rainforest Alliance Gala Dinner provided highly visible pedestals for Mexican representatives to broadcast their narrative.

Trusted global influencers who already cherished Mexico became social media ambassadors, sharing their passion for the country’s culture, cuisine and design. Facebook communities, blog posts and Tweet Ups increased interest and sustained engagement, building awareness both on and offline.

Media came to understand that the drug violence was concentrated in a small part of a vast country; the US State Department minimised its travel warnings and the cruise lines returned to Mexico’s sunny shores.

Documented Results
The campaign succeeded in transforming media coverage, which substantially bolstered tourism and business investment. 350 media interviews garnered over 4bn media impressions across 6 countries, more than the previous 3 years combined. The tone of overall coverage shifted from 'negative/neutral' to 'neutral/positive', and reports showed a 10-fold increase in positive articles. Online communications generated 1bn impressions, and the Mexico Tourism Board’s Facebook fan base surged from 5,000 to 160,000 in 6 months.

Importantly, the Ministry of Tourism announced all previous tourism records had been trumped in 2011: 22.7m international visitors despite a global recession. 2 major cruise lines, which had abandoned Mexican ports in 2010, returned to them in 2011. Business confidence in Mexico also jumped 9.7% year-over-year.

Our work continues, but the way the media addresses a crisis that claimed a country has shifted and the world can now share in the real story of Mexico.