At the height of last summer, the Czech Republic, more commonly known nowadays as Czechia, battled the largest forest fire in its country’s history. For 20 days, the nation’s firefighters, with the help of EU Member States, contended with an unprecedented situation, snuffing out one disaster after another plaguing its Bohemian Switzerland National Park. Once the danger had been averted, residents who evacuated the area eventually returned, but another group was more reluctant to act in kind.
In the aftermath, a region that once teemed with tourists began to miss the familiar sight of travelers and visitors. To turn things around, nonprofit organization České Švýcarsko, with the support of the Ústí Region and the Czech Tourism agency, concocted a plan to revive the area’s tourist-friendly image. The turnaround had to be quick, though, as residents and businesses were still reeling from the summer blaze. A promotional campaign had to be in place within a single month, and České Švýcarsko’s Marketing Manager, Miroslav Kokta, sought assistance from a photographer they’ve relied on regularly: Jiří Lízler.
Together, they had to create six scenarios in less than 30 days – from inception to release. That would leave a scant amount of time for hiring the crew, scouting the locations, and finally, creating and delivering the concept. Additionally, Jiří held a very strong position on the ideal approach to adopt.
“I hate traditional tourism photographs. I have to push the idea of visiting places further.” That was the voice in my head the whole time.
That voice led Jiří and Miroslav down an unconventional path, but one that still got to the heart of the issue: Bohemian Switzerland misses you, so when are you coming back? Instead of photographing actual tourists, maybe they could simply draw them instead, literally illustrating the problem at hand.
How about a family staying warm beside a campfire underneath the starry night sky? Or two couples enjoying a double date perched on top of a cliff, overlooking a cascade of verdant, rolling hills. The creative team planned to splice these illustrations into real photographic scenes from around the region, gently massaged together with some compositing in post. With this strategy, the campaign rightfully earned its nickname of “We Miss People,” and as Jiří would say himself, the pun was intended.
Eventually, he got moving, with Miroslav and his producer, Mira, accompanying him to the locations. They spent an hour or two at each site, but the weather that wreaked havoc during the summer was uncooperative this time around as well, although in less hostile fashion.
We knew that we had to be nimble due to the weather conditions in autumn. The weather forecast proved to be unreliable, to say the least. Sometimes, this involved multiple trips to the location, with initial scouting being done only days and sometimes hours before the actual shoot.
Time pressures aside, they still had a job to do. Collaborating with illustrator Adéla Stopka and CGI artist Ivan Hryhorjuk, Jiří pieced together the various composites required for the campaign. Each scene needed to advertise an exciting possibility, one that an adult, family, or child could see themselves in during the Fall season, relishing the cooler weather and the sights and sounds of beautiful landscapes.
I loved that I could create something that everyone who visits will see, however differently. I use technology to my advantage, creating composites to solve problems. Some of the outlooks were a re-creation as the original location had an amazing view, but wasn’t as enticing (the swing shot, for example). I also loved that I could finally work with a CGI artist after a very long time.
The campaign ran through the month of November. The final six visuals were seen across media outlets, websites, and out and about in Czechia, popping its head over a highway or at the countless subway displays in the country. In the first six days of the month alone, three million web users saw the visuals, making the message as loud and clear as it could be: Bohemian Switzerland misses you.
This month, the campaign received top honors in the Innovative Marketing Communication category at Czechia’s Tourism Grand Awards. Sometimes, it takes breaking the rules and coloring outside the lines to create a campaign that not only turns heads, but also earns the kind of awards that make the competition green with envy.
See more of Jiří’s work on his website.