“Imagine London Without Gays”: How Tel Aviv Pride is trying to attract visitors

Exclusive: Israel Tourist Board speak to OutOfOffice.com about their controversial ad campaign

It certainly was a controversial, and some would say bold move, by the Israeli Tourist Board to set live a campaign which simply read “Imagine London without gays…”.

The idea behind the ad creative was to get people talking and it certainly did that with numerous Londoners tweeting wondering who was behind the digital posters. But all was not as it seemed and the punch line was still to follow.

Speaking exclusively to OutOfOffice.com, the tourism board has defended its decision to run the ads.

The billboards were in fact shown in multiple countries around the world and privately some have questioned the clarity of the message it was intended to communicate.

But what is for certain is that it got people talking, with much debate and discussion online about whether the campaign was too controversial or whether it was bold and innovative.

The Israel Ministry of Tourism (IMOT) responded to the campaign by bringing forward the second part of the creative which suggested that London would be devoid of gays because all of them would be in Tel Aviv for Pride.

Despite first appearances, the IMOT is keen to point out it is a huge supporter and advocator of the LBGTQ market, and in fact this advert is the first of a series which will actively invite and celebrate the community visiting Tel Aviv for this year’s Tel Aviv Pride Festival with the parade taking place on 3rd June.

We sat down with Naama Oryan-Kaplan, the director of the UK and Ireland for the Israel Government Tourist Office:

How did the campaign come about?

The campaign is a global initiative by the Israel Ministry of Tourism and we wanted to come up with something that was creative and thought provoking.

What was the message you were trying to communicate in the campaign?

The messaging was simple, we wanted to showcase that life without the LGBTQ community is empty and dull, and that the community brings fun, colour and a certain vibrancy that really makes a city come to life; something that happens in Tel Aviv year round, but particularly during our annual Pride Festival.

Did you realise that the campaign would cause such a stir?

The reaction to our campaign has been priceless and something that we had hoped for. Initially, social media was buzzing with disgust and bafflement at the teaser billboards plastered across London, and it is easy to see why; our messaging was controversial and lacked information.

What is the aim of the campaign?

We wanted to raise awareness of Israel and Tel Aviv as an LGBTQ friendly destination, as well as bolster the profile of Tel Aviv’s annual Pride Festival, which is the largest in the Middle East.

What is it about Tel Aviv Pride that makes it special?

Tel Aviv Pride is the largest festival of this kind in the Middle East, it stretches over several days and celebrates individuality, inclusion and the qualities that makes everyone unique.

What are your top tips for Tel Aviv Pride?

Enjoy the sunshine and the parties, but most of all, take the time to explore Tel Aviv. The city has a wonderful culinary scene and the boutique galleries that dot the little streets of Jaffa showcase modern art influenced by the ancient city. Tel Aviv has the best party atmosphere set against the backdrop of the Med, blended with the perfect mix of history and culture.

The city is indeed one to put on the bucket list for LGBT travellers with its weather, beaches and nightlife being a draw for visitors.

OutOfOffice.com has a range of options to fit all budgets for those wishing to travel to Tel Aviv Pride, including arranging your flights, transfers and access to the best parties in town.

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