The challenge: Make the journey part of the experience.
Churchill (Manitoba), located on the coast of the Hudson Bay, is known worldwide as a tourism destination, where travellers can find themselves inches away from polar bears, beluga whales, and other arctic wildlife – all under the canopy of the northern lights.
Less known, but just as impressive, is the important research being conducted at centres based in Churchill, that benefits the global scientific community’s understanding of the arctic ecosystem, and our planet’s climate.
Because the town of Churchill is relatively remote, for some time travellers could only arrive by plane, as train service had been suspended for several years. But as railway service prepared to re-open, partners working and researching in the region joined with Via Rail to rebrand the train ride and promote passenger travel.
And for those choosing the railway, the ride can take up to 40 hours en route to their final destination. The University of Manitoba, leading a consortium of partners, engaged ED to engage this a captive audience of tourists and visitors, and educate them about the important research being done in the area, and its impact on better understanding our world.
The solution: Immerse travellers in the destination prior to arrival.
Naming the adventure.
ED’s first task was to explore naming conventions for the branded experience. The name Expedition Churchill: A Gateway to Arctic Research was selected from a number of options, elevating the trip northward from a leisurely ride to a voyage with purpose – a notion that’s evident in the research being done in the Hudson Bay region. The accompanying visual identity for Expedition Churchill used a compass motif, pointed north.
The anchor of the branded experience was an interactive publication (for iOS and Android devices), featuring a description of the work being done in the region. Working with project’s lead author, ED collected the text content and video/photography assets, and collaborated on bringing several infographics to life through animation.
We laid these out in an e-book format, which was made available for download prior to boarding the train. The immersive content served to enhance visitors’ understanding of the depth and impact of the work being performed in Churchill in advance of their arrival. And providing that depth of content prior to the 1,700km ride allowed visitors to begin their Churchill experience before they arrived.
The interactive publication was promoted at train stations through interactive kiosks (which were also located at other educational and tourism destinations in the province). The publication was available for preview by touchscreen, which allowed travellers to sample the book and encouraged downloads prior to departure.
(First photo courtesy of Heather Hinam)
Arriving at the track, travellers were greeted by a wrapped train car promoting the Expedition Churchill experience. And once on board, they found an entire dining car interior wrapped – from table top to ceiling – in images from the Hudson Bay.
(First photo courtesy of Heather Hinam, third photo courtesy of Thomas Fricke)
The Expedition Churchill train car was unveiled – and the interactive publication app was made available for download – at a launch event at Union Station in Winnipeg. The Mayor of Churchill, the President of the University of Manitoba were among the speakers at the event, which attracted media from all regional print and TV outlets.
(First image courtesy of Global News, third image courtesy of Heather Hinam)
Thanks to the strong media presence at the launch, and the published stories being shared more than 2,000 times through social media, the Expedition Churchilll announcement reached an estimated audience of almost 436,000 people, nationwide.
Meanwhile, the interactive publication has received 5-star reviews from users on both app marketplaces, with comments praising its design, easy navigation, and educational content.