Like Diamonds and Glass: The Barbados Tourism Authority vs The Jamaica Tourist Board

The Barbados Tourism Authority vs The Jamaica Tourist Board. A comparison of two advertising strategies….

The above ad featuring the ‘Minnesotan Jamaican’ of VW ad fame was produced by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB).

And this one featuring Rihanna was produced by Barbados’s tourism entity–the Barbados Tourism Authority.

Do you see a difference in strategy, production values, script and use of each island’s natural assets? Why does the Jamaican ad seem lame, insipid and bereft of imagination? why is the Barbadian ad on the contrary so perfect that it could be a global model on how to sell yourselves? And contrastingly how and why does the JTB ad sell the country short?

After 50 years of Independence is this the best our creative class can do? or is JTB hiring friends and relatives and not the pros that we need and have?


PS: This post came out of a discussion on Twitter and is indebted to @Gordonswaby, Erin MacLeod @touchofallright for drawing my attention to the Rihanna ad and @drewonline.

Author: ap

writer, editor and avid tweeter

20 thoughts on “Like Diamonds and Glass: The Barbados Tourism Authority vs The Jamaica Tourist Board”

  1. Hi Annie, glad you raised this. I agree that the JTB post is uninspired and does not capitalize on any of the many assets Jamaica has to offer visitors. It also reinforces stereotypes, both Jamaican and American. However, I would also question the merit and legitimacy of employing Rihanna as a salesperson for Barbados. While you can’t deny her starpower and influence, is it wise for a nation to capitalize on the fame of a young woman who is arguably a questionable role model? I don’t have the answer, just raising a question I have heard asked several times.

      1. I have to say, I think that the song AND Rihanna are appealing–sure, she’s a questionable role model, but she’s riveting in the video and she looks like she’s having heaps of fun in a beautiful place. As I’ve said before, I think that this video makes Barbados look more like Jamaica! And higher production values is what Jamaica needs. Hell, look at all the people who raved about the video for “Get Free”. It’s not the best video ever, but man, does it ever look good. And looking good is what attracts visitors!

  2. I hesitate to criticize Bim for using Rihanna – their most notable citizen at the moment – because she’s a questionable role model. In fact, I won’t. Who says that she has to be a role model at all? And by whose standards are you judging her? That girl is young and living her life, likely making no worse or better decisions than her peers. I don’t know why we insist that people in the spotlight must take up this role model mantel…sure they can but they’re not required to do so. Anyway, her ads for Barbados are beautiful, well-produced and directed. What matters is that Rihanna’s never lost her accent and she visibly and frequently returns home: she has maintained her connection to her home. To my mind those things count far more than her appearing in any ad,in my opinion. What’s more is that she’s made herself available to the Barbados Government for this campaign, and likely lent some of her own industry’s expertise. Who does Jamaica have to do that? And we have a few but I’m curious who folks’ll suggest. Please don’t say Usain or Bob (or anyone from the Marley family); we have lived on their coattails for far too long. We can’t continue to overexpose them. And even if we don’t have someone with that kind of oomph, we still have many many talented ad directors and marketing people who can create a great campaign to invite folks to visit and experience Jamaica…which makes that travesty above even more infuriating to watch.

    As my friend Nicky says: the JTB is asleep at the wheel. Jamaica is super easy to market: vibrant culture, well-known culture, a beautiful culture with so much to do, easily accessible, relatively cheap. Yet the JTB knowingly kotches up that 1 minute bit of rubbish for all to see. And folks wonder why Jamaica is not a premier destination or resist the truth that we’re only “middle market.”

    Good grief.

  3. The Jamaican ad really sucked. As if the dialogue with ‘guy from Minnesota’ wasn’t ridiculous enough they highlighted Mystic Mountain! Seriously? Anybody can make a cart track in any country. I really hope nobody I know sees this on their TV.

  4. I think the comparison is a bit unfair as I believe the credibility of the stars in both and the vested interest in the product (place) being marketed also played a part in the end product. I highly doubt Rihanna would have signed of on a crap commercial regardless of how much she loved her country. The VW guy is just trying to collect a check and a vacation. I hear his connection with JA is through a brother-in-law. I dare say he was not as invested in marketing JA as Miss Fenty was about promoting Barbados.

    1. oh please none of us are critical of the American actor, more power to him, its the JTB that we’re criticizing and sorry you can’t tell me it isn’t deserved…they had a good idea–using Mr. Minnesota–but did so little with it, that’s my complaint…

  5. I preferred the Jamaican Ad. If we are discussing drawing power I think JTB’s ad was better. Could it have been better? Sure. Did it suck? No.
    We continued with the “Come back to Jamaica, its your island home” “No problem man” “One Love” theme which has stood us well over time. Promoting the state of mind. Happy.
    ‘ You dont have to dread to be rasta’ true words from an earlier song.

    The BTB Rihanna promo did nothing for me in terms of wanting to go there. But I thought about Rihanna playing dominoes and if her double six was going to “ded” in her hand.
    Are we discussing ethics and what would be nice to reflect values and other philosophical pursuits or focusing on earning more than U$4 billion this year?
    Dollars and Sense. Bottom line of tourism today at that level at least.

    Nitpick the fine details but remember the end in mind.

    1. No actually we were discussing the ad in terms of concept, content, production values, script if any, and so on. so you preferred the Jamaican ad…how interesting! thanks for leaving this comment 🙂

  6. Why didn’t the JTB get the license for the Jamaica 50 video??? That was well produced, well directed, shows quite a bit of our beautiful island instead of this CRAP?????

  7. eh, sex vs. buffoonery, i like neither. of course the barbados one is visually better but i don’t like what they are selling

    1. fair enough chungy! thanks for your comment…i was looking at each video as what it’s supposed to represent…advertisements…wasn’t getting into the ideology of any of it…

  8. I grew up in Montego Bay. I remember that as teenagers a few of us thought tourism marketers were a bit like common pimps selling cheap prostitutes. The paradigm seems to persist. Then (as now) we were embarrassed and appalled but powerless. There seems to be a fundamental dichotomy between the reality and integrity of everyday life and this strange image of Jamaica peddled by ads like these. Even more difficult is when Jamaicans start to believe the trite stereotypes. The problem is as much one of aesthetics – in its widest sense – as much as it is of ethics.

    1. Thanks for putting it so well…you’re right, one can’t view this as just a matter of aesthetics…tourism is a tainted ‘good’…what amazes me is that there are people willing to defend this ad…

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