Plan B

Maximise VisitScotland’s “Surprise Yourself” Campaign


Making Better Use of VisitScotland Marketing Activity


Surprise Yourself is the latest VisitScotland promotional campaign launched with a TV and Cinema campaign. The VS website explains all but here’s a potted version.

“Surprise Yourself is the new VisitScotland consumer campaign which launched on 16 March 2011 targeting the UK and Ireland market. It supersedes the previous Perfect Day, Autumn Moments and Winter White campaigns.

Following consumer research into its advertising, VisitScotland has developed a new creative strategy and concept to encourage more people to visit Scotland in the coming years. The strategy is to re-enforce the existing icons and friendly people of Scotland making it immediately recognisable that we are talking about Scotland and remind people of the great assets we have here.

The concept is Surprise Yourself, where a number of recognisably Scottish scenes will be presented with a ‘twist’ that showcases them in another way - reminding people in the UK and Ireland that Scotland is a great destination and encouraging them to reconsider/book a visit.

The surprises will encompass surprising facts for example:
  • Did you know you can visit the smallest Cathedral in Europe on the Isle of Cumbrae, which holds a programme of concerts in the summer,
  • Doing things a bit differently, for example, seeing four Edinburgh Festival shows in a single day,
  • A literal surprise, for example, suddenly spotting beehives in the Scottish hills in late summer so that the bees can benefit from the flowering heather,
  • Surprising experiences, for example, kite surfing on St Andrews beach for the first time.
The Campaign will incorporate TV, press, radio, direct mail, partner promotions, outreach and VisitScotland Information Centre activity - all activity will signpost the campaign site.

The new campaign website will promote all regions of Scotland and things to see and do including:
  • Food and drink
  • Green Scotland
  • Get Active
  • Coast & Islands
  • Events & Festivals
  • Arts & Culture
  • City Breaks
  • Golf
  • Wildlife
VisitScotland will we’re sure be putting out a number of buy in opportunities for the industry to take advantage off including vouchers and discount codes.

However this briefing is about what you can do for yourselves to lever what promises to be a quality creative destination marketing campaign

Create Your Own “Surprise Yourself” Product

We’ve always said that tourism businesses know their own area best. So therefore it’s best that they create their own product to emphasise the surprising nature of the area or region.

Utilise the unknown or unexpected in your location, collaborate where possible and create a reason to visit that will indeed surprise the potential visitor


Using one of the examples above;
Surprise Yourself with Wind Surfing in Ayrshire

Why not join us this spring for something just a little bit different.

Ayrshire may be renowned as the Land of Robert Burns and the home of some of the world’s finest golf courses but did you know that it’s coastline provides the opportunity for some of the best Kite and Wind Surfing in the country?

Join us at The Burns Inn near Troon for our two night breaks and you can sample the excitement that the Firth of Clyde can offer you off the beaches of Troon and Barassie.

The package is inclusive of two nights dinner bed and breakfast and includes two half day Wind surfing lessons per day complete with lunch.

You can book online at our website and be assured of the best rate available.

Surprise Yourself at The Burns Inn in Ayrshire this Spring
Okay maybe a bit basic but the idea is there. Create something different that “buys in” to the VisitScotland theme of Surprise Yourself and work with the message that’s going out. There is no point fighting against it. What you now need to do is make sure that you use that theme widely in your marketing to ensure you get seen.

Online Marketing of the Surprise

With content managed websites, blogs, email marketing, Facebook and other social media becoming the norm for tourism operators, it means that very quickly your business can get your message and offer online.

That is however different from actually being found by those who are looking for you!

So with your range of Surprise Yourself products now in place you must start promoting them.

Again utilise the VisitScotland distribution channels. They will attract traffic for sure given the volume of the marketing spend. But these days there is no need to rely on them as a single distribution channel. You can piggy back on them just as effectively.

Search Terms

The volume of customers searching for VisitScotland and/or Surprise Yourself will incrementally increase as the TV adverts and support advertising take hold. To use that horrible old phrase you therefore need “to fish where the fishes are”. You want to be found for some of the traffic looking for Surprise Yourself Scotland and you want that traffic to come to you not only from third party channels such as but importantly you want to drive traffic through your own website.

So when you’re creating your blog page, your promo page on your website, your e-marketing mailshot you create copy and title tags that target this traffic. Your web page titles on your special offers page could look like

Visit Scotland and Surprise Yourself | Windsurfing Short Breaks | Activity Holidays Troon Ayrshire

Utilise Your Blog - Frequently

When publishing your blog article use the same practice. Title your blog Surprise Yourself with Ayrshire Wind Surfing

The article (or even better the series of articles using the theme) would include the promotional copy (with use of the phrase Visit Scotland and Surprise Yourself), relevant image and links back to your own website.

The tags should again for example include

“visit Scotland, surprise yourself, windsurfing Ayrshire, short breaks troon”

Utilise VisitScotland YouTube Video

The VisitScotland marketing campaign is heavily utilising cinema and television adverts – cunningly launched the day ahead of St Patrick’s day to counter the Discover Ireland campaign perhaps? – and they are really good pieces of destination promotional kit.

In the past they have not gone as viral as perhaps they should but you now have control of this at least to some degree.

With your own content management website, Facebook and Twitter accounts and blogs you can easily take the YouTube versions of the videos and upload them onto your website. The use of video on your promotional media can improve the attraction of your package and the visual impact of the adverts should not be underestimated.

For those with a little experience the code in the PDF Briefing document will allow you to embed the video right into your social media at a width of 450 pixels however If you wish to scale the size of the video you can do this on the VisitScotlandMedia YouTube page itself at

If you haven’t uploaded a YouTube Video yet onto your site or blog you can always email us for an idiot’s guide!

Surprise Yourself Full Length Advert

Link to the video :

Download Embed Code Document

Surprise Yourself Trawler Advert

Link to the video:

Download Embed Code Document

Surprise Yourself Seaplane Advert

Link to the video:

Download Embed Code Document

Surprise Yourself Treehouse Advert

Link to the video:

Download Embed Code Document

Things to Do!
  1. Create collaborative Surprise Yourself packages
  2. Communicate your packages with VisitScotland’s business managers locally  
  3. Upload the content and key search terms onto your own distribution channels including your affiliate, partner and destination sites – get it out everywhere!
  4. Embed the VisitScotland videos into your website and online channels
  5. Repeat Steps one to four on an ongoing basis!
Utilise Scotland’s For Me for Free!
Scotland’s For Me provides both a website platform and blog and Facebook distribution. We want Scottish tourism businesses to make use of it as much as possible as a complementary distribution channel so when you’ve got your first Surprise Yourself package together, send us an email with the copy, images and links and we’ll promote it via the blog for you.

Email your package to us

Download PDF version of this Guide to Surprise Yourself

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