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Successful social media strategies in European tourism (2) – Sebi & Paul and Holidays without Internet

In 2009, a campaign[1] was launched on YouTube by the headquarter Switzerland Tourism office. The protagonists were not actors, but two Swiss dairy farmers: Sebi and Paul.  The campaign continued in 2010 and 2011. The videos featuring Sebi and Paul went so viral that in 2011 Switzerland tourism office decided to launch an entire online campaign: “Holidays without internet”.

Developed by the creative agency Spillmann/Felser/Leo Burnett, the project was a contest to win a trip to a cabin, somewhere in the Swiss mountains with no Internet or mobile reception. The winners could bring 10 of their friends on the trip. The goal was to help people have a real break from technology while on vacation and instead enjoy the lovely sights and activities that Switzerland has to offer.

How did it work?

The campaign targeted heavy online users, ‘online junkies’.  It took place on Facebook, as well as on the website www.holidayswithoutinternet.com. On the site, users could see Sebi and Paul sit in front of their laptops and chatting with each other. There was also a TV spot running in Switzerland, Netherland, Germany, Italy, France, UK.

Connecting via Facebook, users could see Sebi and Paul analyzing their personal profile and commenting on their photos and posts. They even made remarks on how much time the user spent on Facebook. Then, the two  recommended those Facebook junkies to diconnect from their intense online life and spend more time with their ‘real’ friends somewhere in a Swiss cabin: a ‘holiday without internet and no mobile phone reception’.


After a few days, Facebook stopped the app, which ironically supported the project’s message and made major headlines. After a week, the campaign was back online.

  • the hits were overwhelming: Up to 16,000 hits daily
  • about 50,000 new fans on Facebook
  • a total of 398,500 visits in 5 weeks

What is interesting about the campaign of the Swiss Tourism Office is that they use mascots – a strategy normally reserved for traditional media, while at the same treating its clichés with humour.[2]

[1] “We do whatever it takes to make your holidays perfect”

[2] Young Digital Lab, Between Facebook and farmes: how Switzerland got ready for tourist invasion, 9 May 2012, http://www.youngdigitallab.com/en/social-media/between-facebook-and-farmers-switzerland-gets-ready-for-tourist-invasion/ Last consulted on 14 April 2013


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