London Tourist Board Unleashes 'Wild' Advertising Campaign

by Kimberly Scholz

NEW YORK -- London's wild -- or at least that is what the city's tourist board would like potential visitors to believe after seeing its new advertising campaign.

Hoping to add to the 2.3 million U.S. tourists who visited London last year, the series of ads promotes the "cooler, hipper side of London" and shows that there is more to the city than meets the eye, said Helen Jones, head of marketing for the London Tourist Board.

Each print ad combines tradition and sophistication for a "more modern and vibrant image" of London, she said.

For example, one ad, features a giant raven, the legendary guardian of the Tower of London. Dressed as a Yeoman Warder and flying off with a large diamond, it invites visitors to explore two of the city's traditional tourist sites -- the Tower of London, which is home to the Crown Jewels exhibit, and Buckingham Palace.

Another campaign, depicting a dalmatian donning a red morning coat, is designed to promote the upscale shopping district of Sloane, Oxford, Regent and Bond streets.

Coming soon to the district are stores with such famous names as Giorgio Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Ralph Lauren, Karen Millen, Gucci, Guess and Calvin Klein.

The final ad attempts to combine yesterday's vegetable stalls with today's arts and entertainment venues of Covent Garden. Readers should look closely at the ballet dancers' legs.

Although the opera, ballet and theater still are prevalent in the area, the vegetable stands have long since been replaced by an "eclectic group of stylish restaurants, bars and shops," Jones said.

According to Paul Hopper, managing director of the London Tourist Board, "This campaign aims to persuade Americans to take a fresh look at London."

"Our research shows that the average American tends to think of London as a living museum, when, in fact, we now are firmly at the cutting edge of fashion, eating out and nightlife."

The campaign also was designed to put the spotlight on London as it gears up for its millennium celebration in Greenwich.

The ads will run through March in the magazine sections of the Sunday papers in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, Philadelphia and Chicago.

More than 10 million Americans are expected to see the campaign, which is being jointly funded by the London Tourist Board, the British Tourist Authority, the Department of National Heritage, Radisson Edwardian Hotels, American Express and British Airways Holidays.

As part of the promotion, British Airways Holidays created an air-inclusive package called A Taste of Wild London.

The plan features roundtrip air on British Airways; airport transfers; three nights' accommodations at the Tavistock Hotel; continental breakfasts daily; a "two-for-one" pass to the Pepsi Trocadero entertainment complex in Piccadilly Circus; dining at Planet Hollywood, and a Planet Hollywood T-shirt.

Rates start at $449 per person, double occupancy, from New York and range up to $639 per person from other U.S. gateways.

To book the BA plan or to receive more information, call the carrier at (800) AIRWAYS.

For general inquiries about travel to London, retailers can contact the BTA at (800) GO2-BRITAIN.

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