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'Paintings are disgusting': Vienna mocks web reviews in ad campaign

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Projection of an actual visitor rating of the Leopold Museum in Vienna
Projection of an actual visitor rating of the Leopold Museum in Vienna -
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© WienTourismus/ Paul Bauer
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Vienna unveiled a new advertisement campaign that mocks the digital age of online reviews.

From "the lawn is a mess" to "the view is rubbish", the Vienna Tourist Board took the worst reviews of the city and incorporated them into posters and online ads.

In London's underground and Hamburg's Central Station, the ads ask "So who decides what you like?" in bright red lettering, asking visitors to make up their own minds.

Austria's famed Leopold Museum also collaborated with the tourist board, projecting bad ratings onto the side of the museum from June 6-8.

"Paintings are disgusting" was displayed on the museum's wall with one star filled in out of five.

© Vienna Tourist Board, Tom Hanslien, Subject Photographer: Peter Rigaud

"In our current Vienna campaign, we take a humorous look at the notion that online ratings are not always the right path to take when it comes to looking for relaxation and moments of enjoyment," said Norbert Kettner, the managing director of Vienna's Tourist Board in a statement. "It is intended to make people sit up and think and trigger broader public discussion.”

Kettner pointed out that online ratings are a tool that can be very useful in tourism as well.

"However, we see digitalization as a cultural tool that people should take advantage of, and not as an end in itself," Kettner said in the statement.

The ad campaign will also be present on social media and online travel sites with the hashtag #UnratingVienna.

The tourist board wants travellers to explore Vienna beyond the "must-see" destinations.

© WienTourismus/ Tom Hanslien/ Wien Nord/ Sujetfotograf: Paul Bauer
London Tube© WienTourismus/ Tom Hanslien/ Wien Nord/ Sujetfotograf: Paul Bauer

Online ratings are increasingly important for the tourism industry.

Online reviews were the third most important decision-making factor for Europeans in deciding travel accommodation and the second most for Chinese, according to Ipsos' 2018 Summer Holiday Plans report.

Millennials, in particular, are giving new strength to online reviews, Ipsos said.

Last year, the tourist board promoted the idea of a "digital detox" asking visitors to have a hashtag free visit to the Austrian city.

As part of the campaign, they teamed up with the Belvedere to cover Gustav Klimt's famous painting "The Kiss" with a red hashtag while the original was on display in the next room.

The campaign asked visitors to "See Vienna. Not #Vienna."

Tourism is an important industry in Austria that contributed 8.8% to its GDP in 2016, according to the Federal Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism. Vienna is the third most visited area in Austria after Tyrol and Salzburg.

The Vienna Tourist board is financed by local hotel taxes, the city budget, and its own revenues, according to its website.

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