Visit Seattle First Takes. Photo credit: J. Austin Wilson.

Visit Seattle First Takes. Photo credit: J. Austin Wilson.

Film can be many things to many people – a daily job, a wonderful escape, pure entertainment. But film is also a tool to reach audiences and tell a compelling story.

The Visit Seattle First Takes campaign is a series of video postcards that invites outsiders to our state’s Emerald City, showcasing the exciting, colorful, and cultural assets it has amazed visitors with for years. The marketing campaign could take the route of traditional print and radio advertising to accelerate its aim, but it’s going for something visual now – it’s using film to help tell its story. The campaign is promoting Seattle and portraying Washington in a global marketplace with this new cinematic series represented by the Seattle branch of Publicis in which eight strangers are filmed experiencing and acquainting themselves with Seattle. It’s a visual and dynamic approach to marketing the city to the world, making the global concept of traveling quite personal and unique.

Washington Filmworks sat down with the filmmaker J. Austin Wilson and Visit Seattle’s V.P. of Marketing Ali Daniels to discuss the innovative series and the use of film to showcase Seattle.

To tell Seattle’s story, Wilson wanted to shoot something that had never been done for tourism in Seattle before. “When I moved here ten years ago, I didn’t fall in love with the Space Needle or Pike Place Market – I found inspiration in campfires at Golden Gardens and whiskey with my friends. I wanted to show the Seattle that I share with my family and friends when they come visit me.”

This original depiction deviated a bit from traditional commercial work according to Wilson. “With most commercials,” he reveals, “there is a prescribed formula that a director must follow. Ad agencies and clients usually have a very specific idea of what the final product should look like, but for this project it was more uninhibited – each participant’s personality informed their activities and the vibe of the final video, with each really designing their own experience.”

Visit Seattle First Takes. Photo credit: J. Austin Wilson.

Visit Seattle First Takes. Photo credit: J. Austin Wilson.

Daniels worked hard to bring the campaign to life, and so far it seems to be working quite well. “Ultimately, when it comes to success, we have to ask ourselves – is [the series] powerful enough to entice people to come to Seattle? And that’s our biggest metric. We also look to web traffic, engagement, and social sentiment, which are all equally significant in our campaign.” Furthermore, she is excited about the future of the series: “We are currently exploring other ‘series’ and expanding the ones we’ve already established. One exciting concept involves documentary filmmakers who will utilize the best the city has to offer.”

Ultimately, what’s most important and revealing is how film is so effective to tell Seattle’s story. “There’s something special about video,” Daniels explains, “that allows us the ability to show people interacting with our city versus just capturing one moment in time. We are also focusing on the messaging around Seattle being a sensorial wonderland, and film allows us to engage with more senses than other forms of advertising. Film also allows us to show up in places we haven’t been before – inflight videos, movie trailers, interactive videos, and more!”

Wilson agrees, claiming that film is the most compelling way to tell Seattle’s story. “This is a sensational city,” shares Wilson. “The goal was to capture the textures, vibrations, flavors and emotions of Seattle by focusing on the details – like dipping your fingers into the Puget Sound or the wind in your hair on a ferry boat. Through the imagery, sound design and editing, we did our best to illustrate the memories and moments you create while traveling.”

Their best was more than enough – Visit Seattle First Takes is clearly an incomparable experience for those eager to learn about and visit the Emerald City. Moreover, it puts Washington State on the map as an enticing destination and a capital of solid filmmaking.

Washington Filmworks thanks Wilson and Daniels for their insight and information. Experience the Visit Seattle First Takes campaign here.