Overshadowed by Orlando, Zambezi positions Kissimmee as 'Whelmed'

76 percent of travelers say need a vacation from their vacations.

Kissimmee, Fla., is no Miami Beach. It’s no Orlando, either, even though it is only 20 miles away from the theme-park mecca.

Zambezi Los Angeles set about to capture exactly what this place named Kissimmee is in a new branding campaign launching on digital outlets this week.

"Be Perfectly Whelmed" is the theme of the campaign for tourism authority, Experience Kissimmee. The theme unspools in a 27-minute documentary-style film, "Finding Whelmed," about a travel show host who goes AWOL in Kissimmee and his crew’s adventures as they seek him. 

It is running on YouTube, Amazon Prime and will even be entered into some film festivals.

"Central Florida is Disney World, it’s Universal Orlando, people don’t realize they are often staying in Kissimmee," said Gavin Lester, partner and chief creative officer at Zambezi. "Kissimmee believes there is a point of difference. If you go to Orlando, you probably feel processed, like you already entered the theme park, Kissimmee is a different offering."

To show travelers that they should do more than sleep in Kissimmee, Zambezi created a show-within-a-show about Desmond’s Destinations, a British travel host who hits all the wonders of the world but is a real diva off camera.

As his show is set to cover Kissimmee, Desmond disappears, leaving his crew to find him. This device has them going to various Kissimmee resorts, on an airboat ride through peaceful inland waterways, to an alligator compound and ultimately the local fairgrounds, where they find Desmond, by now in a state of pure "whelmed," enjoying a corn dog.

The entire cosmopolitan group is content and pleasantly in the zone, neither overwhelmed by sightseeing overload or underwhelmed by a destination that oversold its merits.

"An outside person has made this discovery, that is how we positioned it," said Lester, giving viewers who would also dismiss Kissimmee reasons to reconsider. 

The hunt for Desmond as he goes to various spots around Kissimmee gave Zambezi an opportunity to promote specific hotels and excursions within a greater narrative. 

The campaign jumped off research Experience Kissimmee conducted that found 76 percent of vacationers felt they needed a vacation from their vacations. Standing in line at a theme park would do that to anyone. 

The survey of 500 respondents also found people saying they were exhausted and felt overscheduled by their family vacations. 

Zambezi created 30-second and one-minute trailers that are running on Buzzfeed, USA Today and Amazon Prime. 

"Finding Whelmed" was directed by Tyler Measom who recently created the "I Want My MTV" documentary that appeared at the Tribeca Film Festival. Entering "Finding Whelmed: in film festivals gives the digital campaign extra credibility. "When it is being seen and judged upon, outside the marketing world, it makes the documentary feel like  (the Desmond storyline) is plausible," said Lester. 

Subscribe today for just $116 a year

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.com , plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a subscriber


The latest work, news, advice, comment and analysis, sent to you every day

register free