Set in the Highlands of Scotland, Outlander is the first book of a series of eight international best-selling time-travel novels by Diana Gabaldon. In August of 2014, STARZ debuted a small-screen adaptation of the novels, stirring up a viral buzz amongst Outlander’s huge and very committed fan base. Much-acclaimed Executive Producer Ronald Moore (of Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica fame) has called Scotland his “third lead character.” Perfectly timed to coincide with National Tartan Day on April 6 (a national holiday celebrating Scottish culture throughout North America), the second installment of season one was released on April 4, 2015.
Alongside the real-time buzz of Outlander’s premiere in the entertainment sector, LDPR set out to showcase the lure of Scotland from a destination perspective, highlighting the country’s appeal to travelers of all interests.
Working closely with STARZ, LDPR leveraged Outlander’s launch by developing an impactful, destination-driven PR campaign. Honing in on key talent (e.g., Scots-born stars Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe and Ron Moore), the agency secured timely Q&A’s in top-tier travel media. By pitching visual-driven slideshows and an interactive guide to Outlander filming locations, LDPR effectively reinforced why Scotland is the prime destination for “set jetting.” To generate on-the-ground content in real time, the agency organized VIP media access to screenings and executed a dedicated press trip to Scotland, highlighting various filming locations across the country. To leverage the buzz around Season One’s second installment, LDPR hosted a Outlander-themed media event during Scotland Week in New York City in the first week of April (this activity was aligned with National Tartan Day on April 6, 2015).
Immediate and impactful, coverage has reached over 15 million people (so far). Key placements include The New York Times (Q&A with Producer Ron Moore in weekly travel column), Travel + Leisure (Q&A with Scots-born lead actor Sam Heughan), Frommers.com, Buzzfeed.com, CNTraveler.com, The Huffington Post, TravelChannel.com, Travelpulse.
Further indicators of success: By April 2015, interest in the series had tripled since its debut. Historic Scotland reported the number of visitors to Doune Castle (featured heavily in Season One of Outlander) had risen by almost 30%. The Outlander section of VisitScotland.com has been viewed more than 175,000 times since the series launched, with tour operators reporting dramatically increased bookings in specialized Outlander tours.