Santa Monica Travel & Tourism: How Santa Monica Leveraged a Relationship with a U.K. Town to Draw More Visitors from the U.K.


Campaign Summary

Santa Monica Travel & Tourism partnered with the dually named English city of Brighton and Hove on a multi-channel campaign that leveraged digital, PR, and more traditional ad placements, plus an event with tops chef, to drive visitors from the U.K. to the California beach town.



In July 2022, the California city of Santa Monica and the English city of Brighton and Hove collaborated to promote the newly formed Friendship City agreement between them. Santa Monica Travel & Tourism's goal for the campaign was to immerse U.K. consumers in the Santa Monica experience, to build on destination awareness, and to generate positive awareness and engagement during and after the events. The activation also strove to drive bookings to Santa Monica, through integration of a call-to-action that drove to a tour operator partner and airline partner with a supporting digital media plan.

Target Audience:

Affluent and upwardly mobile U.K. consumers were targeted through a mix of digital and OOH channels, leading media outlets, and a VIP trade and media event held at the Shelter Hall, the focal point of the activations. The effort also involved collaborations with leading Santa Monica chefs to promote the city's culinary scene.

Creative Strategy:

The marketing channels utilized to support the campaign included a dedicated microsite, acting as the hub of information on the campaign and Santa Monica, which was pushed out through a mix of:

  • Digital advertising
  • On-site and in-room collateral at the VIP event
  • A consumer competition
  • Out of home (OOH) — including digital screens around Brighton
  • Social media advertising
  • Partner advertising with Visit Brighton, Visit California, United Airlines, Flight Centre, Shelter Hall, The Set, One Garden Brighton, and Yellowave Volleyball
  • EDM screens at Flight Centre shops in Brighton and elsewhere in the U.K.

The consumer events included:

  • A pop-up kitchen featuring Santa Monica chefs' menus
  • A cocktail collaboration at Shelter Hall's Skylark bar with bespoke Santa Monica cocktails
  • Promotion of the consumer competition
  • Two live cooking demonstrations with visiting Santa Monica chefs at ONE Garden Brighton
  • Media and influencer dinners
  • A Volleyball court sponsorship at Yellowave Volleyball courts


This campaign was the first-year activation of an ongoing Friendship City agreement between Brighton and Hove and Santa Monica.


Overall Campaign Execution:

The overall marketing strategy and objective was to encourage event visitations, drive users to the dedicated campaign microsite and tour operators, and encourage sign-ups to the campaign competition. The channels used allowed Santa Monica Travel & Tourism U.K. to target users at a street level within proximity of the event location, target people that had shown an interest in travel to Santa Monica and competitor destinations, and retarget those who had already shown an interest or had engaged with the campaign content.

A variety of channels were used to reach the relevant audiences, including digital display advertising, social media advertising, and OOH activity. The team used a range of targeting to reach its target audience, including precision audience targeting (audiences were targeted based on geo location, demographics, travel intent, interests, and other relevant in-market data), third-party data enrichment, and look-a-like profiles of existing campaign engagers.

Mobile Execution:

The overall media budget was $46,800 — used across a range of channels. $27,765 of this budget was used towards online digital display advertising, and 64 percent of that amount went toward mobile. While keeping a close eye on performance, the team noticed that 80 percent of the engagers were on mobile devices, so its optimized in order to make the most of this engagement.

Business Impact (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

The consumer campaign that was delivered over the summer of 2022 was the first of its kind to enhance the Brighton and Hove and Santa Monica partnership. It embedded Santa Monica in the U.K. summer scene by providing a memorable consumer experience that inspired travel to Santa Monica.

Through the integrated media approach, the campaign's reach topped 75 million, with over 76 media hits and 1,431,535 social media impressions.

The estimated total footfall was 2,480,000.

The campaign generated $1.5 million in earned media in print, digital, and social with an in-kind partnership value of $237,498. The earned media value was $1,519,072 (or £1,142,160).

By the time the campaign concluded:

  • Over 17,000 users had visited the campaign microsite.
  • Over 4,000 people had entered the competition.
  • Santa Monica Travel & Tourism logged over 75,000,000 brand interactions.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: Brand Experience | Awards: X Global Finalist