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Creative Cities & Wild Soul of Europe Lightbox Campaign

Converting travel aspirations into action when the time is right

Duration: December 2020 – March 2021

Partners: German National Tourist Board, National Tourism Organisation of Montenegro, National Tourism Organisation of Serbia, VisitFlanders

Target Markets: Canada, China, USA

Supplier: MMGY & MMGY Digital Spring


ETC, in cooperation with its Partners and powered by MMGY, launched a digital campaign targeted to long-haul travellers into Europe whose travel motivations centre around specific travel interests and experiences related to the Creative Industries and Contemporary Arts and Nature and Outdoors. The campaign focused on targeting repeat visitors to Europe defined as being urban, affluent, Free Independent Travellers (FITs) in USA, Canada and China who are at the dreaming and/or consideration stage of their travel cycle and convert their aspiration into action.


This campaign comprises three interconnected assignments:

  1. Creative and Content Production: Design, development and production of inspiring and engaging editorial and video content covering a range of experiences that highlight Europe in general as well as the partner destinations and the editorial theme. The content was developed and edited in the local language, presenting a bespoke and tailored approach for the target interest-based community [B2C] in each market. Due to the flexibility of digital, messaging could be adapted throughout the campaign to include reassurance messaging to Europe around Covid-19 and discovering European travel experiences from home. This ensured the campaign was always on message dependent on the news cycle. The campaign also included content on safe travel to Europe.
  2. Content Distribution: Digital distribution and advertisement of the content to B2C target audiences at scale in all key markets.
  3. Trade [B2B) Marketing Activity: The campaign also built destination awareness and drive conversion among key niche travel trade professionals in each of the markets in focus.

The campaign was split into the two editorial themes – The Wild Soul of Europe and Europe’s Creative Cities – where the content was hosted centrally and delivered to audiences in local language using a set of beautifully designed digital lightbox hubs, social and rich media content assets.In addition, for the Wild Soul Of Europe a fully responsive campaign microsite was also created to host the content.


The lightbox hubs were distributed to audiences at scale via the Travel Desk Demand Side Platform to reach audiences based on their travel searches and web behaviours including:

  • Data prospecting using enriched audience data targeting to audiences based on their travel searches including Europe and Competitor destinations. Prospecting included special interest groups tying in with the key passion points that fit with the editorial themes eg Outdoor, Cities, Hiking, Walking etc.
  • Direct site programmatic activity within premium editorial travel environments and around contextually relevant editorial content. The programmatic approach allowed flexibility to optimise around the best performing context and editorial sites.
  • Paid social activity: the campaign content was delivered through social activity designed to drive engagement in Europe as a destination across the two core campaign categories.
  • Tactical Re-targeting: all campaign assets were tagged, enabling the collection of a growing and refining set “Europe engager” data pools in each market. These audience pools were re-targeting driving further engagement and consideration to the ETC and its partners.
  • Travel Trade: for B2B the campaign was promoted to the trade digitally via Travelport using targeted eDM and display advertising to the US and Canadian travel trade.

The content and plans were adapted to consumer preferences within the different target markets. For example, in China the campaign was delivered on mobile using a mixture of social and digital display across WeChat and Tencent, enriched by audience segmentation and travel behaviour data.


As part of the campaign measurements, both campaign engagement i.e. “interest” as well as search and bookings data for hotels and flights to Europe i.e. “consideration” as part of their exposure to the campaign were tracked. The campaign has delivered very strong results across all markets for both consumer and trade.

To date the campaign has delivered over 15 million impressions targeting long-haul travel intenders into Europe. The campaign has delivered dwell times within the interactive lightbox content hub of over 1 minute 30 seconds and interactions rates of over 2.5%, higher than similar campaigns pre Covid-19. The results to date demonstrate there is real interest for long-haul travel into Europe. Click through rates are almost 6 to 8 times higher than the industry standard depending on creative, showing consumer interest in finding out more information on travel to Europe.

To date the campaign has driven the target audiences further down the booking funnel by generating over 25K travel searches and bookings for hotels and flights to Europe that we can attribute directly to the campaign.


The digital approach ensured maximum flexibility for the campaign and allowed to manage and adapt the campaign in the following ways:

  • Content: ability to change and adapt messaging in real-time around the news agenda both in Europe and the host market to changes in the pandemic and consumer sentiment.
  • Pacing: ability to boost and slow-down delivery of the campaign around the Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 news cycle (e.g. US presidential elections) and editorial environment.
  • Geography: ability to deliver the campaign with the best performing geographical locations and adapt the plan in real time around travel restrictions and consumer sentiment.
  • Performance: ability to optimise the campaign to the best performing environments using the data collected form the campaign in real-time. Additionally, Travel Desk allowed to switch between targeting strategies and markets as required ensuring the campaign over delivers against it targets.

Co-funded by the European Union