Controversial ad of Vilnius wins best destination campaign award

Calling Lithuanian capital the G-spot of Europe has contributed to a significant increase in tourism

“Nobody knows where it is but when you find it – it’s amazing.” With this rather cheeky statement comparing Vilnius to a G-spot, the Lithuanian tourist board decided to boost tourism into its capital last year. 

The campaign was launched in August 2018 and reached almost billion people — vilniusgspot.com Controversial ad of Vilnius wins best destination campaign award
The campaign was launched in August 2018 and reached almost one billion people — vilniusgspot.com
 

The board was struggling with a major issue. While they wanted to attract more millennials from Western Europe, they found out that less than eight percent of respondents in their target audience had known where Vilnius was located.  

For this reason, they created an ad depicting a woman visibly experiencing pleasure while gripping a blanket with a map of Vilnius. By this slightly controversial approach, the board portrayed the capital as a hidden gem promising amazing time. 

Vilnius skyrocketed on Google Search

The campaign was a real success in terms of spreading. While hoping for at least 300 media articles, the final number was 1,100, including one on Kiwi.com Stories. Almost a billion people were reached and the term Vilnius was googled 33 times more than before. 

In addition, it contributed to an 11.97 percent increase in UK’s visitor numbers from the UK and a 37,74 percent increase in tourists from Germany.

Inspired by the success, the city doubled down on the concept and launched a website called vilniusgspot.com that was visited by more than 100,000 people from all over the world.

The outcome of the overall marketing activity did not go unnoticed and last week, the city gained the Best Destination Campaign award in the city category presented at the World Travel Market London

Inga Romanovskienė, head of the official development and business promotion agency Go Vilnius, said in a statement: “International tourism is a highly competitive field where only a few manage to stand out.  

“Even competing with the giants of tourism — such as Las Vegas — was a great achievement.”

Controversial timing and backlash

Despite being successful in many ways, the campaign received mixed reactions from the start. Firstly, its launch was scheduled for 9 August 2018, one week before the official visit of Pope Francis to the capital. 

There were also claims by critics that the whole thing is of dubious taste in a Catholic country (a number of priests have reportedly claimed that the image has “used women’s sexuality for advertising” and “will give outsiders wrong ideas” about Vilnius). 

However, it maintained the official backup. The concept and design for the campaign was the work of a group of advertising students, and had the blessing of both the mayor of Vilnius, Remigijus Šimašius, as well as Inga Romanovskienė who described it as “extremely engaging”.