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Tourism Agencyʼs ‘Spice of Europe’ Campaign Trains Eyes on Budapest

The Hungarian Tourism Agency (MTÜ) has launched an international marketing campaign to promote Hungary’s capital city as a high-end tourist destination.

Actors Rebeka Szabó Sipos and Ádám Lábodi in a scene from the “Spice of Europe” film.

With the clearly stated objective of overtaking rivals Prague and Vienna as the region’s best place to visit — or just where to stay longer and spend more — the new Budapest-centered push, titled “Spice of Europe”, carries an initial price tag of HUF 1.3 billion (USD 4.864 million).

A campaign kick-off event for local media took place on Monday morning, May 14, in the elegant environs of the Uránia National Film Theater, with actor and TV presenter Pál Rókusfalvy hosting the proceedings. 

In coming weeks and months, international news network CNN will broadcast the “Spice of Europe” campaign’s one-minute “movie” to an estimated 250 million homes in the United States over the course of some 900 placements.

The 60-second film is the fruit of exclusively local talent. Directed by René Mednyánszky and with originally composed music from Dániel Karányi, the film’s Hungarian actors (Rebeka Szabó Sipos and Ádám Lábodi) don clothing and accessories from more than a dozen well-known or up-and-coming Hungarian fashion designers.

The campaign spot features a young couple visiting Budapest to kindle their romance. The man and woman dance, shop, gaze, bathe and dine their way through several Budapest locations, at the end of which a spoonful of piquant local cuisine brings newfound ecstasy to the young woman, while sparking new impressions of Hungary for the young man.

Joy of Sharing

“The closing scene presents the joy of sharing that the boy experienced in his youth and is now re-living with his sweetheart,” the press material explains.

We can’t know how things will turn out in the long run for this attractive young pair, but if they get along just fine for now in Budapest and have high spending power, it’s all good.

Tourism and gastronomy account for roughly 10.5% of Hungary’s GDP, and the sector employs close to 400,000 people nationwide, explained MTÜ CEO Zoltán Guller in his opening remarks at the campaign press event. Given its geographical position and wealth of attractions, Budapest is poised to one day overtake the Austrian and Czech capital cities and emerge as the region’s premier holiday hot-spot, Guller added.

“Guest nights in Hungary between 2010 and 2017 grew from 20 million to 30 million,” Guller continued, “and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to achieve our goal of 50 million guest nights by 2030.”

While television spending for the campaign is high, 65% of the present budget is allocated for online spending, targeting several other countries besides the United States, including Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Several airlines will also run the campaign in the coming months, while low-cost carrier Wizz Air expects up to five million passengers to view an eight-page supplement on Budapest in its June-July online/in-flight magazine.

Energetic City

What the broader campaign is expected to do, according to MTÜ press material, is “to convey the image of Budapest as an energetic, creative and diverse city where visitors can find anything that any classic European capital has to offer, presenting both its authentic, historical side and innovative, vibrant aspects. The campaign is being launched with a youthful, creative image, with a new tourism logo, website, TV promo spot, and other creative content.”

The current promotional material will appear on international television, online and print media from May 15 to June 30, according to the MTÜ press release. In parallel with the Budapest-centered campaign, MTÜ plans to launch a domestic campaign aimed at stimulating spring and summer tourism for Hungary’s lesser-known locations and attractions.

The wider “Spice of Europe” campaign, as detailed at the press event by Dávid Drozsnyik, director of Graphasel Design Studio, is working with five emotive themes (mirrored in five pastel shades) to target three main groups (young people aged 25-40, families seeking adventure, and global tourists in the 30-35 age group).

Comparatively, Hungary has some catching up to do with its regional rivals on a nationwide scale. Figures from 2016, according to statista.com, place Austria up front with 121.1 million overnight stays, with the Czech Republic at 49.7 million, and Hungary trailing by a fair margin at 29.3 million.

In terms of growth, percentage-wise, from 2010, however, Hungary does lead the pack, and decisively: up from 19 million (35%), compared to the Czech Republic’s 36.9 million (26% growth) and Austria’s 103.9 million (14%).