The rocky Faroe Islands southeast of Iceland are home to beautiful cliffs and gorgeous seaside views, yet they remain largely undiscovered by tourists. Until recently, the islands were literally off the map—they were missing from Google Street View.
Earlier this year, the islands’ tourism board, Visit Faroe Islands, and its Denmark-based agency, Liquidminds, set out to change that by creating its own version of Google Street View, with sheep serving as videographers.
“With a media budget of basically zero in a country with a population of less than 50,000, we figured what better way to show that it’s unexplored than to show that Google hasn’t even been there?” said Rune Hørslev, partner at Liquidminds.
The agencies strapped 360-degree cameras on the animals’ backs to produce “Sheepview 360,” a series of videos that show off the island from a sheep’s perspective. Sheep outnumber people on the islands by a ratio of 2-to-1. In fact, the name Faroe Islands actually translates to “sheep islands,” making the animals the perfect ambassadors for the destination, said Guðrið Højgaard, director of tourism at Visit Faroe Islands.
“Sheep are like our cows,” she said. “They walk around everywhere. It was obvious that we should use the sheep.”
Hørslev agreed. “The cool thing about doing marketing for a place like Faroe Islands is basically all we need to show is how extremely beautiful the islands are,” he said. “The sheep are a pretty good engine for that, and they helped show some of the undiscovered places that are only explored by them.” (No sheep were harmed during filming, just a few of the cameras, he added.)
Videos of the sheep’s journeys and a map of the islands that showed where the sheep had been, were posted on the tourism board’s website. Visit Faroe Islands also encouraged visitors and locals to post photos of the islands on Instagram using the hashtags #WeWantGoogleStreetView and #VisitFaroeIslands.
And the program was a hit. With a budget of just $200,000, it generated 2 billion media impressions and an estimated PR value of $50 million, according to Højgaard.
It caused a spike in travel bookings, as well. “The number of people who have been requesting travel information has been increasing, and we’re almost fully booked already for the coming year, which hasn’t happened before,” Højgaard said.
The campaign also caught the attention of Google. Representatives from the tech giant traveled to the islands and provided locals with cameras and training to help them create an actual version of Street View. Google also shared the story on social media and its blog.
“We’re a very small organization, and we didn’t really have money to buy ads,” Højgaard said. “So we put all of our energy into this idea, hoping that the media would like it. Everything exploded, and it was great fun.”