Remember to Breathe: Critical Mass for Travel Alberta

Through a series of winter and summer stories, READY pulls our adventure-hungry millennial audience into the action.


Tell us about your role in the creation of this work.

I was the Strategy Director during Critical Mass’s work on READY. The disruption faced by the tourism industry has been remarkable. Think the sharing economy, the rise of online influencers, the digitization of the travel purchase process, and the explosion of millennial travel. So after 5 years working with Travel Alberta’s “Remember to Breathe” platform, it was time to evolve the strategy with a much needed update.

Give us an overview of the campaign, what is it about?

Through a series of winter and summer stories, READY pulls our adventure-hungry millennial audience into the action. Our goal was to make the viewer feel like they’re in the middle of a moment – that moment that they’re about to experience something incredible.

Tell us about the creative brief, what did it ask?

We were asked to build on the previous brand work by showcasing the breadth of Alberta’s amazing landscapes and activities, but focusing on our new, younger audience. We had to introduce an urgency and energy that would appeal to millennial travelers. At the same time, the brief had a strong emphasis on storytelling to help Travel Alberta capitalize on its shift from a campaign marketer to “always on publisher”.

Which insight led to the creation of this piece of work?

Alberta’s diverse scenery is really breathtaking. But in an age of stunning 4k photography and sweeping drone aerial shots, beautiful landscapes have become table stakes. The emotional territory of “Remember to Breathe” was also becoming more commonplace. We needed to introduce a new attitude to appeal to our millennial traveler. We tapped into a fresh territory for the brand – the welcoming, adventure-seeking personality of Albertans. We needed that attitude to come through.   


Can you share with us any alternative ideas (if any) for this campaign? Why was this idea chosen?  How did the client initially react to this idea?

We presented a couple of directions, but this one was the clear winner. Travel Alberta was behind it from the start. They loved the introduction of the attitude of Albertans to the brand, and recognized the potential for READY to evolve into a storytelling platform that could speak to its international markets.

What was the greatest challenge that you and your team faced during development.

READY was developed to be flexible. The story needed to be reassembled depending on the experiences that appeal in each international market. Our focus was also digital, so it had to work across channels and devices. What we created was a major production challenge for CM’s studio team, Wander. The result was a mammoth content creation effort. They worked through winter and summer, covering every corner of the province capturing stills, video and VR content all scored with custom music for each of the cuts.

What did you enjoy most about seeing this campaign through? Did you learn anything new from the experience?

Without a doubt, it was seeing and hearing the reaction of people who hadn’t been here, but even more so the reaction of Albertans. For locals, it was emotional. The campaign generated incredible pride of place. After having your head in the work for so long, it reminded me just how lucky we are to live here.

Where do you see this campaign going in the future?

I would love to see the personality be expressed more strongly in new and interesting ways. Wherever it goes, I know it will move and motivate people to visit.

If you could go anywhere right now, where would you go? Why and have you been there before?

After being away for 8 years, I would love to pack up my family to tour New Zealand. We lived there for 10 years before all our boys were born. I think they’re old enough now to appreciate the home they’ve never been to.