Panama campaign welcomes everyone but tourists

Hoping to boost its tourism numbers from the U.S. and Canada, The Panama Tourism Authority hired VML as its AOR in 2016.

The result is a campaign that positions the Central American country — with relatively underdeveloped infrastructure — as a point of destination for Indiana Jones and Laura Crofts rather than fat, lazy beach bums looking for cabanas and Mojitos.

You ain’t going to find The Real Housewives of Wherever glamming it up here!

The two-year, $20 million international campaign which includes, broadcast, PR, print, pamphlets, digital, in-flight and social, positions Panama as a country that embraces its adventurous and challenging landscape as well as its centuries-old culture. For instance, the spot below, titled “Face Paint,” showcases Panama’s culture and also pokes fun at Instagram. It ends with the tagline, “For culture seekers. Not for tourists.”

Helmed by freelance filmmaker, Vincent Urban, other entries in the campaign beckon adventurers to visit “the world’s most inviting volcano,” insinuate a somewhat treacherous journey to see a rare bird and ask visitors to “swim-up” to a small village as opposed to a “swim-up” bar.

The agency also created a gorgeous long-form film that highlights everything the country has to offer, ending with, “For travelers. Not for tourists.”

In an article in MediaPost, VML executive creative director Sean Burns said, “We set out to create an identity that was uniquely Panama — but more than people realized it was. Previously, the PTA had been creating advertising based on how they see their country. We portrayed Panama in a way they never would have.”

“In Panama, there are a lot of hidden of gems that you must work for to experience,” he added. “A lot of locals haven’t seen the best parts of the country because it entails going off the beaten path.”

This campaign certainly does take that path and hopes others will as well.


Agency: VML

Client: Panama Tourism Authority

Global Chief Creative Officer: Debbi Vandeven

Chief Creative Officer: John Godsey

Executive Creative Director: Sean Burns

Executive Producer: Kelly Durham

Producer: Lara Humevich

Supervisor of Client Engagement: Samantha Gibbons

Senior Copywriter: Tim Cerullo

Art Director: Ben Conaghan

Music Producer: Nick Keenan

Business Affairs Manager: Julie Kolton


Executive Producer: Alison Goodwin

Director: Vincent Urban

Director of Photography: Clemens Krueger

Assistant Camera: Max Neumeier

Editorial: Whitehouse Post

Producer: JoJo Scheerer

Editor: Christine Wolf

Assistant Editor: Lauren Pescon

Production: Carbon VFX

Color: Maria Carretero

Producer: Casey Swircz

Flame: Devon Taylor

Graphics: Jake Mathew

Color Assist: Jacob McKee

LA-Based Colin Costello writes for film, TV, advertising and of course, Reel Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @colincostello10.