Visit Tampa Bay takes over London, Toronto and German TV

January 22, 2016 by Kevin Wiatrowski

Visit Tampa Bay takes over London, Toronto and German TV

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The José Gaspar’s annual invasion won’t be Tampa Bay’s only take-over this year.

Visit Tampa Bay, the tourism office for Hillsborough County, has set out to take over the world -- from London and Toronto to Germany and major U.S. cities.


All this month, Tampa Bay has been a featured destination during promotional events at the Westfield Shopping Centre in the Shepherds Bush section of west London (Jan. 24) and at London’s most famous Victorian market, Old Spitalfields Market (Jan. 27).

“What better time to promote Tampa Bay’s sunshine and fun than these days winter days when London is a gray and rainy 44 degrees?” said Santiago Corrada, president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay. “This time of year, London gets about two hours of actual sunshine a day. We want to make them wish they were here – then go get those tickets on British Airways.”

Visit Tampa Bay’s London take-over includes five of London world-famous taxis wrapped with bright, striking images of Tampa Bay – golden-and-black historic streetcars in Ybor City and downtown’s skyline featuring the José Gasparilla pirate ship. Both designs feature “Florida’s Most,” Visit Tampa Bay’s claim to bragging rights as the destination that best blends all the activities visitors expect in a Florida vacation.

The $26,000 take-over is part of Visit Florida’s first major promotion in the United Kingdom.

The London take-over also covers a Visit Tampa Bay-branded bus shelter on heavily traveled Oxford Street and 10 stations on the legendary London Underground. A Gasparilla-style pirate will greet visitors during public events at Westfield and Old Spitalfields. For an entire day, lucky shoppers can get Visit Tampa Bay-sponsored manicures in bright Florida colors.

The take-over peaks Jan. 30, when Visit Tampa Bay streams Tampa Bay’s historic Gasparilla Pirate Invasion live to passengers in Visit Tampa Bay’s branded taxi. This will be the first time Visit Tampa Bay has livestreamed the invasion.

“Gasparilla is Tampa Bay’s signature event,” said Patrick Harrison, Visit Tampa Bay’s British-born vice president of marketing and communication. “Brits love Tampa Bay. By livestreaming the Gasparilla Invasion, we’re giving Londoners a taste of a true Tampa Bay experience – one we hope they’ll come experience for themselves next year.”



When the Tampa Bay Lightning took on the Toronto Maple Leafs in December, the crowd at the Air Canada Center got the full Tampa Bay treatment. While the Bolts were lighting up the ice against the Leafs, Tampa Bay images filled the center’s screens, billboards and even the ice.

Visit Tampa Bay treated an exclusive group of Canadian media and corporate guests to a luxury box for the game, and two sets of lucky hockey fans scored a free trips to Tampa Bay – one next week and one in March.

Visit Tampa Bay distributed 100 branded T-shirts to fans, visited behind the scenes with the game announcer and referees – and won high praise after giving the game announcer a jersey signed by Lightning captain Steve Stamkos. Visit Tampa Bay reps pointed out that, while Stamkos (highly coveted by the Toronto team) belonged to Tampa Bay, the jersey was his to keep.

The Toronto take-over also included face-time with several Canadian media separate from the game and a follow-up visit to Tampa Bay by the travel editor of the Toronto Star.



Over the Christmas holiday, Germans joined TV host Michael Roll on a 30-minute visit to Tampa Bay and nearby Anna Maria Island.

“Mein Tampa Bay und Anna Maria Island” aired four times – Dec. 12, Dec. 20, Dec. 26 and Dec. 27 on the N-TV documentary channel. The show was filmed in September as part of Lufthansa’s inaugural non-stop flight to Tampa Bay.

During the program, Roll, a well-known German actor, takes on Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, rides a water bike along Garrison Channel, learns about Florida Aquarium’s project to restore native corals, feeds a baby manatee at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, and tries his first India Pale Ale at Cigar City Brewing Co.


Chicago, Boston, Detroit and Dallas

In Chicago, where the temperature is stuck below freezing all day long, a trio of smiling kids leaps into a pool beneath a gorgeous blue sky. Winter-weary workers trudging through the slush on Chicago Avenue in downtown will see Visit Tampa Bay’s towering wallscape banner – that image of sunny fun and “Florida’s Most Inviting Waters” (attached) -- every day through winter and spring.

“We love Chicagoans – even though their team won the Stanley Cup last year,” Corrada said. “Chicago is our top U.S. vacation market, and we want them to know what them to know that we’re here for them in their season of need. We expect loads of Chicagoans to come down during Gasparilla Season in February and March to get a break from the cold.”

“Florida’s Most” billboards will also spread the word of sunny Tampa Bay to residents of Dallas, which became an important Tampa Bay tourism market in 2015 with new flights on Southwest from Love Field to Tampa International Airport.

In Detroit and Boston, Visit Tampa Bay has launched its first-ever advertising campaigns on cable TV.

All four markets will be part of a year-round digital campaign as well. The entire out-of-state campaign costs $783,000.

The “Florida’s Most” out-of-state campaign will run through early May. After that, the focus will switch to in-state markets, including Jacksonville, Fort Myers, Miami and Orlando.