As people look forward to the post-coronavirus “new normal”, tourism chiefs are reaching out with a campaign to attract them to Never Normal Brighton.
The campaign builds on the oft-quoted line that Brighton couldn’t do normal if it tried.
And it follows the temporary rebranding of the tourism agency Visit Brighton as Don’t Visit Brighton in the summer as concerns grew about seafront crowds making social distancing difficult.
Visit Brighton promotes the city to visitors from home and abroad, working in partnership with more than 500 businesses across Brighton and Hove and the wider Sussex area.
Its latest campaign came from an idea by Brighton agency Designate which subverted the phrase “the new normal” to point to what makes the city so special.
It encourages people to escape the mundanity of this year with a trip to Brighton, combining eye-catching images and a creative and an irreverent tone and by showcasing its exciting and offbeat culture.
Designate – a “top 50” agency, according to the leading trade publication Campaign – cuts through the depressing and repetitive communications associated with the pandemic.
Faye Carré, Designate’s creative director, said: “During the pandemic we were monitoring how people were responding to communications around coronavirus and we knew that audiences were tired of hearing the same gloomy phrases and the bleak messaging.
“Designate has been part of Brighton culture for 30 years so, when we came up with the Never Normal campaign idea, we knew it was perfect.
“That’s what people love about Brighton – it’s the people, the culture and the sense of freedom.
“Our unconventional campaign is full of life, subversive and has flex to work across the ever-changing coronavirus restrictions.
“But crucially it also has life beyond the pandemic – Brighton will definitely never be normal.
“Our approach at Designate is to find that elusive part of the brand … and make people pay attention.”
There are four phases to the campaign which is initially targeting Brighton residents, then day trippers from around the South East.
Next it will be aimed at family and friends of residents who might want to plan an overnight stay – and finally the aim is to attract long-stay visitors and even those from overseas.
Designate came up with the concept by looking at what makes Brighton unique and focused on its free-thinking nature and unusual heritage buildings.
The agency said: “They knew Brighton had never been normal, deciding to play on the phrase coined during the pandemic: ‘The New Normal’.
“The team began working on the campaign during June, commissioning local street photographers Kevin Meredith and JJ Waller, as well as collaborating with more than 500 partners of Visit Brighton, who shared photos to use as part of the creative.
“Honest and authentic images of the people and places fuel the campaign. It features well-known Brighton characters with the phrase ‘Welcome to Never Normal Brighton’, or the outlandish Royal Pavilion, illuminated at night with the tagline: ‘We’ve always been open to the unusual.’
“Another image shows a photo of tourist attraction the Upside Down House with the phrase: ‘Looking for the new normal? Keep Looking. Brighton is coming back to life, but if you’re looking for the new normal, you might be in the wrong place.’”
Visit Brighton’s head of sales, marketing and partnerships Julia Gallagher said: “When we saw Designate’s Never Normal concept we loved it – it’s a simple but bold idea which reflects the free-spirited atmosphere of the city.
“People love Brighton because it is a place where you can be yourself and are free to do things differently – we couldn’t do normal if we tried!
“As Visit Brighton we have our own ideas about what makes the city special but we cannot wait to see what everyone else thinks makes us #NeverNormalBrighton.”
Designate’s executive director Adam Hill said: “We were passionate about working on this project as we’re a Brighton agency.
“We take a lot of pride in our city and wanted to help it get back on its feet but we’re also a Campaign top 50 national agency that has worked with some of the world’s best-known brands.
“We understood that the people and the culture will make people want to visit much more than a traditional sunset beach shot.
“This campaign functions as a rallying cry and reminds us about what’s amazing about this city and celebrates it.”
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