Divine Mauritius; cult or culture of exotism?

Posted on mars 3, 2012

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It seems that most warm countries play the exotic card to attract tourists.
Indeed 2010 saw the launch of Divine Mauritius, a campaign aiming to reinforce the identity of Mauritius as a leader in exotic destinations for French people. This campaign relied essentially on the three pictures below.

Divine Mauritius - personnification of a gardenDivine Mauritius - personnification of the SeaDivine Mauritius - personnification of Desert

There is a plus in these pictures. The advertisers did not settle for pictures of people sipping an exotic drink in an exotic setting. While they kept a little exotic side, Mauritius is standing out by personifying natural elements. They did more than evoking the heavenly setting of Mauritius, they showed that Mauritius has a personnality, she is alive. It makes a change from the other advertisings of warm destinations.

Exotic warmth, exotic coldness

Like most islands and countries, the identity of Mauritius is heavily influenced by the exotic culture. The word exotic is so overusedy that in fact it doesn’t mean much anymore. In reality, the word exotic is used to describe something that comes from another country. It means that to someone who comes from a hot African country, the cold winter from Quebec could be quite exotic.

And yet, in our collective psyche, we associate exotic destinations with warm places like Tahiti, Cuba, Barbados, Martinique but never with cold places like Quebec, Siberia or Alaska…

The typical ad of an exotic destination.A white man holding an pineapple drink. There is a blue sky and a palm tree behind me.

Typical ad of an exotic destination. Palm tree, blue sky and pineapple drink. Can you guess in what country/island this picture was shot?

This misunderstanding of what is an exotic destination is the result of reductive and easy advertising. Pictures of these countries with warm temperatures are very similar because they show the same elements; turquoise water, white and fine sand, palm trees, coconut trees…

Cultural identity of Mauritius

When I hear the word Mauritius, I always think of one of my ex-colleagues who came from that island. He looked like a South-Asian dude, he had a French (European) accent and the warmth of his personality reminded me of Africa. His existence is pretty much everything I know about Mauritius but I feel that I already know a great deal. So many different cultures coexisting in one body! Why not use this multicultural facet instead of being content with advertisings worth peanuts?

Divine Mauritius Ad. Model Eva Flatin standing still. Behind her, a beautiful blue sky and a tree.

It’s undeniable that for hot countries and islands the exotic side is hard to avoid in advertising. However, I’m confident that there must be skilfull ways to bring out the exotic side of each place without having the impression that advertisers simply copied and pasted image ads. If advertisers fail to bring out the exclusivity of each exotic destination, tourists will base their destination choice on the cheapest price. No added-value in terms of cultural enrichment! So I applaud Mauritius for its innovation!