The Covid-19 pandemic was a challenge of historic proportions for the entire tourism sector. It needed a powerful response, which Switzerland Tourism ST certainly delivered with its new signing in April 2021: tennis idol and 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer joined the ST team as the official brand ambassador for Switzerland as a holiday destination.

The partnership with Federer had long been planned, even before the pandemic came along. However, the federal recovery funds enabled the campaign to be put into place much more intensively and on a larger international stage than any ST campaign before. The shared aim of this long-term cooperation is to attract new visitors to spend time in Switzerland’s restorative natural surroundings. The announcement made headlines around the world.

The scorecard after the first year with Federer is more than positive: the campaign is far and away the most successful global media activity that ST has ever undertaken, generating nearly 1,300 media items and 1.4 billion media contacts. That is a new record for ST. also recorded 0.55 million page views, and the marketing measures produced 559 million top media and marketing contacts.

Roger Federer in Times Square, New York.

Roger Federer and Switzerland Tourism: a logical move

As a global icon, Roger Federer has for years conveyed a positive image of Switzerland around the world – through his sporting achievements, but also through his likeable, grounded personality. This has also come across repeatedly in the images he has shared of holidays and days out in Switzerland. The cooperation therefore made perfect sense, as Federer himself agreed: “Every time I have stepped onto the court, I have always felt that I was representing Switzerland. Whenever my name appears, there is always a Swiss flag next to it. That has been a source of great pride throughout my 22 years on the tour, and it will always remain so. Working with Switzerland Tourism is a logical next step for me,” said the sports star in conversation with ST CEO Martin Nydegger. Roger Federer is passionate about his homeland and is doing this work for a good cause. All remuneration for his work as an ST ambassador goes to the Roger Federer Foundation and is used to support disadvantaged children in Switzerland.

Campaign with short film celebrates (social) media records

The success of this first campaign is attributable to the short film “No Drama”. It went viral and was covered in more than 440 media stories worldwide – in publications from the esteemed New York Times to Esquire in Japan and Explore in Australia. In Switzerland, Blick called it the “ultimate advertising coup”. The NZZ, Tages-Anzeiger, 24heures and Swiss television (French-speaking, German-speaking and Ticino) also reported on the collaboration. In all, the short film was responsible for 463 million media contacts around the world and won several awards, including the Marketing Excellence Award 21.

“No Drama” has notched up more than 52 million YouTube views. With around 900 comments and 18,000 likes, the engagement rate was above average at 2.6%. ST has also gained 10% more followers on YouTube since the film was published, leading to an increase of 86% in brand awareness (brand lift). Federer also got involved with the campaign on his own social media channels, with witty posts and reactions to comments from fans, as this example from Twitter illustrates.

Own website, My Swiss Bench, RogerBot and metre-high posters enables visitors to see the country through Roger’s eyes. The landing page shows his favourite spots, tourist highlights and little-known gems. In Federer’s own words: “I have been all over the world. My favourite place has always been Switzerland. It is the country that I miss most when I am travelling.”
There was a little surprise in store for website visitors from October 2021: the RogerBot, a virtual version of Federer, offering inspiration and seasonal tips.

The RogerBot surprises website users with tips and useful information.

Swiss people love their benches at beauty spots. Federer drew attention to this aspect of Swiss culture with the My Swiss Bench poll on social media. From the middle to the end of October 2021, everyone could vote for their own country on the associated website. Germany received the most votes, with a total of 76,000, and therefore ended up with a bench on the Jungfraujoch.

At the same time, ST launched a series of advertising themes for summer and winter, always taking account of the latest travel situation in the various markets around the world. The pandemic meant that ST was able to negotiate extremely good rates for advertising space in the most frequented locations. New York’s Times Square alone generated 63.84 million marketing contacts, including partner themes. The equivalent figures for the Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo and Piccadilly Circus in London were 6.0 million (in three days) and 6.16 million respectively.