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How Tourism Tasmania sells the smell of fresh air

There’s a cruel irony about Tourism Tasmania’s Come Down for Air campaign, which kicked off last year.

You'd be forgiven for thinking it's an unfortunate, unforeseeable waste given today's coronavirus travel restrictions.

But the fact remains this work offers powerful lessons for any CEO, business leader or marketer. The sounds and smells of Tasmania will linger in the air long after the last videos plays.

Let's take a look, and take a moment to listen closely.

Click the image below to experience the first video on Discover Tasmania's YouTube channel, Forest Bathing | Moments of Calm. If you’ve been feeling stressed lately (who hasn’t?), just take a moment...

You’re welcome.

Now, if you skipped watching it, you missed experiencing a beautiful slow walk without narration through Nelson Falls, part of the UNESCO World Heritage listed wilderness on Tasmania’s west coast, with the gentle sounds of the forest, native birds and flowing water as your sensory companions.

Soaking up the full experience of this video series with noise cancelling headphones reminded me of that brilliant business strategy question: What are you really selling?

For example, if you run a luxury day spa, you sell comfort and indulgence. High-end smartphone manufacturers sell prestige. Google search sells instant curiosity satiation.

So, what is Tassie selling?

For me, I’d say transcendence; a brilliant word which simply means to go beyond or overcome.

In this case, the brand promise feels tangible. Tourism Tasmania is telling us that when we visit the state, we transcend the ordinary. We enter a completely different world, discover peace and realise the dream of a perfect getaway.

Take a quick look at these beautiful little vignettes of life in Tassie to get a sense of what I’m talking about. And listen carefully - I'm going to share some thoughts next on the power of sound in storytelling that you might useful in your own context.

DiscoverTasmania video series highlights

Beachside walks at dawn are transformed into simple, but profound moments you’ll remember forever in Bay of Fires:

Tasty scallops are best served fresh in your Combi van by the sea, takeaway style:

Sea urchins, caught, cooked and served by Tom - right there on a boat, bobbing carelessly in the ocean, in Urchins:

In this one, Ben Lomond, we learn you don’t need to reach the summit because, “the views aren’t half bad.” In fact, if you turn around now, “you’ll make it back for happy hour”:

Perhaps my favourite is Old Mate; we can’t feel sorry for him, surrounded by the biggest mound of oysters you’ve ever seen.

The sound factor

As I hinted above, the real lesson here isn’t so much the cinematography, copywriting or creative ideas. You can find them everywhere.

This work stands out because it takes full advantage of a rarely discussed storytelling technique: sound design.

Each of these videos contain a soundtrack you can’t ignore. The pitter-patter of rain. The delightful sounds of chirping birds in a rainforest. Running water from a stream, gently reminding you nature is well and truly alive. It’s also the unmistakable sound of the ocean as dawn breaks, and gentle wind on the side of a high mountain.

Combine all those sounds with narration by a kindly old man blessed with a deep, warm resonance and you just can’t help but believe the story.

It’s evocative, and yes, transcendent. Turn up the videos loud while wearing noise cancelling headphones and you want to go there.

Even in noisy environments like TV, digital or social, the very absence of loud shouty people selling us stuff makes you stop and listen, and breathe.

Why are these particular sounds so powerful? Because they have a calming familiarity. They strike an emotional connection with us.

Selling air

Sound is the perfect solution to the problem established by the campaign name itself, Come Down for Air.

How, exactly, do you get people to feel the sense of air in a digital or analogue format? It’s practically impossible. You can’t smell the ocean through your smartphone or laptop!

So here we are, with the joy of sound design. Sound can trigger other olfactory senses like taste, and smell, that conjure places, spaces and feelings from years past.

It’s a technique we’re of course intimately familiar with from the world of movies and TV.

They draw us in with a powerful soundtrack and the detailed sounds of an immersive environment. A fun illustration of this point is the famous stock sound effect known as the Wilhelm Scream - it’s everywhere!

Now, if you’re in charge of a brand facing an uphill battle; it could be worth looking at sharpening your sound design to be a more powerful, emotional storytelling tool.

Meanwhile, I'll get back to dreaming about where to go when this pandemic subsides. I have a feeling Tourism Tasmania didn’t waste its marketing budget after all. The promise of tangible peace and fresh air is just what we all need right now.

Keep believing,


Mark Jones is an author, speaker and storytelling strategist helping leaders around the world use his world-first proven model of brand storytelling called Beliefonomics to inspire change. His debut book, Beliefonomics: Realise the true value of your brand story is available here.

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