Stolen seal extends Tourism Victoria campaign

Sol's disappearance from Calgary put Tourism Vancouver back in the news

Eve Lazarus August 05, 2011

In a case of life imitating art (er, marketing), Sol the Seal was stolen from outside a Calgary restaurant this week.

Sol is one of three 450-pound sculptures featured in a marketing campaign to bring the ocean to Calgary. The campaign was created by Tourism Victoria, ad agency Eclipse Creative and Newad.

The campaign, which kicked off during the Calgary Stampede on July 6, began with transit shelter takeovers, radio, full-page print ads and wild “wanted” postings offering a reward if the sea creatures–Sol, Simon the Salmon and Orland the Orca–were returned to Victoria.

The second phase of the campaign introduced massive sidewalk sculptures that moved around Calgary. Tourism Victoria ran a social media contest for those who spotted the sculptures and posted photos of them on Facebook or Twitter.

“The idea is that these creatures are on the lam from Victoria, and we want help bringing them back,” said Trina Mousseau, director of destination marketing at Tourism Victoria. “As a reward, we’re offering a west coast adventure trip for four for [the winner] and [their] posse.”

However, Sol made headlines again when he seemed to go on the lam for real earlier this week. “It took three men and a five-tonne truck to transport these things around Calgary,” said Mousseau. “We’re wondering “Did somebody really just misunderstand the messaging?’”
The new hunt for Sol means the campaign has had an unexpected boost, with online and PR efforts spreading the word of the seal’s unplanned disappearance (Tourism Victoria assures us it’s not part of the campaign).

Even without the “kidnapping,” Mousseau said the campaign was doing well. Tourism web traffic from Calgary was up 391% from the same period over last year, and the effort received a lot of positive media coverage.

The campaign ends August 8.