San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Talking sloth tourism campaign generates fervor in U.S., Canada

Costa Rica’s talking sloth is getting a lot of attention.

Six weeks since the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) and U.S. advertising agency 22squared launched “Costa Rica’s Million Dollar Gift of Happiness,” a campaign to attract North American tourists, the campaign’s “Mr. Sloth” has become an Internet phenomenon. The ICT reported that more than 60,000 people have visited its Facebook page to enter the promotional vacation giveaway contest.

“The ideal mix of traditional media and social networks has allowed us to amplify the media impact using a limited budget, in a market as big as the U.S. and Canada,” said Tourism Minister Allan Flores. “We have reached a larger audience than we would have with a traditional advertisement and have been able to educate participants about Costa Rica’s offerings.”

Since the campaign was launched Oct. 6, 19 people have received a “Gift of Happiness” – a vacation to Costa Rica to enjoy one of five travel package options.

The campaign has also received attention from several well-known media personalities in the U.S. and Canada. Famed CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper gave a Gift of Happiness to newlywed couple Brittany Hillard and Cameron Humfleet during the Nov. 10 episode of his show. In an increasingly popular video on the website YouTube, Hillard passes out when Humfleet surprises her with a marriage proposal. In response to the video, Cooper gave the couple a Gift of Happiness vacation to Costa Rica, courtesy of the campaign.

The Gift of Happiness has also been mentioned in the publications The New Yorker, USA Today and Budget Travel.

The campaign runs until Feb. 5, 2012, and will award a total of 255 Gifts of Happiness.

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