Skip to content
All posts

Travel Iceland: Agency SS+K Used Swayable to Win Big at Cannes Lions

Creative testing your way to Cannes Lions
How SS+K translated a buzzy campaign into real world outcomes

In 2020, creative agency SS+K and partners Peel and M&C Saatchi Group developed a series of new ad campaigns for Visit Iceland. The campaigns built on timely insights around COVID19’s impact on future travelers, and were a hit with the press.

Hip hiker posing on a rock with an exploding volcano in the background, overlaid by text reading "Looks like you need an Adventure" and a footnote of "Inspired by Iceland"

The campaigns positioned Iceland as the antidote to a tough year

But SS+K and Visit Iceland needed a way to tell if the campaigns were actually driving travel intent:

“It’s easy to see the press coverage or the sentiment on social media, but we needed to know if the campaign was really growing interest in and plans to visit Iceland.” - Elena Claro, SS+K Senior Strategist

SS+K used Swayable to answer: did the creative persuade audiences to visit Iceland?

Designing the study

SS+K tested each new ad against a control group who saw an unrelated placebo ad to isolate the difference in interest in visiting Iceland between those who saw the ad and those who did not.

Data visualization for a metric measuring "Interest in visiting Iceland" using a randomized controlled trial. The test group scores 9 percentage points higher than the control group.

Data has been altered to protect client confidentiality

Instead of testing the ads against the typical customer journey steps of awareness or consideration, SS+K and Swayable designed the test around how travelers actually shop, with 3 steps: Dream, Plan, Book.

Data visualization for persuasion journey metrics. "Dream" increases 15 percentage points, "Plan" increases by 11, and "Book" increases by 7.8

Visit Iceland's Persuasion Journey

“Being able to report how the ads performed against each step on the journey has helped us to crystallize the impact of our work.” -Elena Claro, SS+K Senior Strategist

Did the campaigns drive real outcomes?

The Swayable tests confirmed the impact of the creative, revealing that SS+K’s work increased the likelihood of people to rank Iceland number one for their next holiday and start planning their trip. While the data itself is private, the usage of RCTs (randomized controlled trials) allows us to prove with statistical significance that the campaigns increased travel intent.

The data proved helpful in awards applications as well:

“Everyone gets excited about the earned media, but we’re also looking for other measures of effectiveness … It was important to have something concretely measured with our target to show that our campaign was not just a flash in the pan, but it drove real brand and business results.” -Elena Claro, SS+K Senior Strategist

“Looks like you need Iceland” cleaned up at the awards circuit as well, picking up three Cannes Lions, two ANDYs, five Effies, one Pencil from the One Show.

Images of the awards "Looks like you need Iceland" won many awards: 3 Cannes Lions, 5 Effies, 2 ANDYs, 1 Pencil Award

Most importantly - what did the campaign look like?!

‘Scream’ positioned Iceland as the perfect destination to let out the pain of living through the COVID19 pandemic. Visit Iceland launched a site where participants could scream into their phone, and that scream would be played live on one of seven speakers across the seven regions of Iceland.

‘Sweatpant boots’ debuted just as travel started to pick up again, centering around the idea of upcycling your sad lockdown sweatpants into adventure-ready hiking boots to explore Iceland in.

‘Outhorse your email’ took inspiration from the ‘always-on’ culture of working from home, offering vacationers a way to truly disconnect: an Icelandic horse will write your out of office email for you, so you can fully enjoy your vacation.


  • Creative agency SS+K used Swayable to translate their viral Visit Iceland campaign into outcomes
  • Swayable’s tests demonstrated that SS+K’s campaign increased intent to travel to Iceland
  • SS+K used Swayable impact metrics to successfully apply for creative awards, picking up three Cannes Lions, two ANDYs, five Effies, one Pencil from the One Show.
Curious how Swayable’s platform can quantify the impact of your creative? Get in touch.