Breaking Bad’s Trip to Belize

When the most watched show on cable used "trip to Belize" as a synonym for murder, the Belize Tourism Board saw --and seized-- an opportunity.

From Bad to Good

When the leading characters on the cable-TV sensation “Breaking Bad” repeatedly used the phrase “trip to Belize” as a euphemism for murder, the Belize Tourism Board had a choice: Wait out the conversation, or jump in and change it. We chose the latter, and offered the cast and crew a real-life “trip to Belize” to show them that (1) it’s a pretty great place to visit, and (2) that we can take a joke. We made the offer via an exclusive interview with the New York Times, and set off a viral sensation that wound up dramatically improving online sentiment around Belize, turning a negative into a positive.

Where a lot of people saw a problem, we saw a very exciting, and humorous, opportunity.


We reacted the best way we knew how. Authentically.

When Belize was mentioned, in a not-so-flattering-way, we reacted timely and authentically. AMC dug it. The media dug it. And so did a lot of people. Buzz60 did a nice video recap of this story.

We offered the cast of Breaking Bad a free trip, in the New York Times.

Belize invitation
The bottom line

The reaction was tremendous. There were thousands of Tweets and 300 million media impressions.

 

On the strength of more than 300 million media impressions, plus a social-media deluge, Belize turned a pop-culture moment that would have terrified many marketers into a major platform to show off the country’s good humor and “Just Be” vibe. Online sentiment around Belize—which had been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons in the weeks leading up to the episode—improved dramatically, jumping from 1:1 positive-to-negative mentions in the week prior to the episode, to 8:1 during the week that followed, and an overall rise in tourism in the following months.

Awards

The effort won three 2014 Innovation SABRE Awards, including Best in Show.