The Opportunity

Branding a destination today increasingly requires digging into a complex range of physical, emotional, and aesthetic characteristics, from unique local architecture, to attractions and the ever more important, people that give the destination its local character and flavor. Visit Santa Barbara wanted to tap into its local passion and share that unique feeling of being in Santa Barbara to inspire new audiences to add the destination as part of their consideration set.


The Campaign

SB Story is a multi-year campaign effort. Originally, the campaign focused on generating social media photos and stories from passionate fans and locals in Santa Barbara. The goal was to build a rich content library and to find new ways to tell the Santa Barbara story to highly targeted audiences on social media. The campaign focused on stimulating engagement and conversation around the #SBstory hashtag.

Following the success of the first campaign, Sparkloft and Visit Santa Barbara re-engineered the concept to create a deeper emotional resonance that would inspire new visitors. We uncovered three promising Santa Barbara locals and built a four episode social media series highlighting their lives and passions. What connected all three individuals was that they made something in Santa Barbara that a visitor could experience.

The video storytelling strategy went beyond simply interviewing locals and showcasing highlight reel locations. Consumers are skeptical of overly branded video content that is all gloss and no passion. To trigger a connection with viewers, Sparkloft and Visit Santa Barbara crafted a series of brand principles to guide the storytelling process.

Telling the story was half the strategy. Distributing the content to reach the right audience was also fundamentally important— so our planning shifted from art to science. Sparkloft created a highly targeted, segmented video advertising strategy that leveraged current social trends. At the time of the series launch, Facebook was working hard to overtake YouTube as the largest social video platform on the web. The result was an opportunity to generate exceptionally low cost targeted reach on Facebook.

Sparkloft also developed a teaser strategy to build interest and anticipation among social fans before episodes were released. Each video was promoted before launch on Instagram. Post launch, additional segments featured “leftover” footage that was also posted to the social channels.

At the end of the campaign, social posts asked users to continue the conversation and share their own #SBstory.

The Results

At the beginning of campaign, Visit Santa Barbara and Sparkloft set a goal to focus on generating reach and most efficient targeted cost-per-view of the video series. The campaign successfully generated 1.6 million impressions and generated more than 540,000 organic and paid video views during its four week run. The video advertising optimization and targeting strategy generated an impressive Facebook cost per view of $.01 and $.012 cost-per-view on Youtube.