Meet the Creators of LA’s “Everyone is Welcome” Tourism Campaign

Photo credit: Discover Los Angeles

Among the many special places in the world, Los Angeles offers something unique to residents that’s hard to sum up in a single sentence. It’s not the Hollywood Sign, the Santa Monica Pier, the Griffith Observatory, or the sprawling beaches in Malibu — although they are iconic landmarks — it’s the atmosphere of inclusivity that people from every walk of life contribute to the city. Upon arrival in LA, everyone is welcome, no matter their race, political affiliation, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Discover Los Angeles recently introduced the ‘Everyone is Welcome’ tourism campaign, which expresses this sentiment visually and (quite remarkably) with no dialogue. The ad kicks off with a Mexican boy throwing a paper plane toward LA, and it glides through the city passing by people of varying appearances. The tone is light and positive; offering the idea that traveling to America from other countries is not only possible, but widely encouraged.

Before we hear from the creative team, check out the campaign video:

Here’s our chat with the Creative Director of Discover Los Angeles, Jeremy Bacharach.

How did you and your team approach the concept and tone for the ‘Everyone is Welcome’ campaign?

Our message is about the freedom of all people — of all nationalities, all races, all religions and all genders — to feel that they are always welcome in Los Angeles. It’s a message that we feel truly gets to the heart of who we are as a city. We are proud of our diversity — that we come from all corners of the globe, that we’re free to be who we are, and love who we love. Diversity and inclusivity make Los Angeles the beautiful place that it is.

We wanted to connect that idea with a positive, welcoming message to the rest of the world. We felt it was our privilege and our responsibility to take a stand in the current political climate — and we wanted to do so in a way that reflected the palpable creative energy that flows through our streets.

That’s where the metaphor of the colorfully patterned paper planes comes in — representing travelers and their unique cultures in a beautifully visual way.

Can you talk about the decision to include Father John Misty’s ‘Real Love Baby’ and what it represents?

Part of the Discover Los Angeles mission is to celebrate our local creative community — which is why you see street art featured prominently. We also wanted to use a song from a local musician. Father John Misty’s “Real Love Baby” was a perfect choice to set the tone and vibe for our film. The song just has an upbeat, positive, sunny California feel that reflects our message and our city. When we started creating the film, I had vintage Beach Boys in my mind — and “Real Love Baby” is a subtle, contemporized nod to that sound that worked out perfectly.

Also, it would be great to learn a bit more what you do as Creative Director of Discover Los Angeles, and how the goals of LA’s tourism efforts are influenced by the current political climate.

I’ve been with Discover Los Angeles for a little over 4 months now. As Group Creative Director, I’m building an in-house creative agency to work on a vast array of projects — representing all this city has to offer to international and domestic travelers. I come from the ad world, as an advertising creative — but I’m working to create a more collaborative culture than you typically see in advertising agencies. It’s easier when your “brand” is a city the Mayor calls “the creative capital of the world” — everyone wants to be a part of the story we tell, and the messages we share with the world.

The current political climate has destinations all over the country on edge — which is why we’re taking steps to lead by example and change any “unwelcome” sentiment that may be out there by spreading our positive Los Angeles vibes.

Discover Los Angeles

Now let’s hear from the director of the video, Isaac Ravishankara.

The concept for the ‘Everyone is Welcome’ video is extraordinarily simple, yet so thoughtful and effective in expressing a message of inclusivity. How did it come together?

From the very beginning, the goal was to make a loud and proud statement that LA is a city (and a place to visit) that welcomes and champions diversity. Not only in the various neighborhoods around the city, but in all of its residents and in the people who travel here as well. This all began around the time of the first travel ban [from the Trump administration] being enacted, protested against, and then frozen in court — and so this informed the metaphor of the paper planes freely traveling throughout the city. We wanted to make a positive statement that the values of Los Angeles have not changed despite some views determining current national politics.

Did you cast actors for the video, or simply local LA residents?

I really stressed from the moment I took on the project that we wanted to highlight real people around the city. So as we set out to cast the video, our amazing casting director focused on reaching out to a diverse group of actors and non actors alike to take part. From there, we opened the doors wider to approach people we met in the various neighborhoods we were shooting and include them as well. So in the end, it was a mix. But remember, all of the actors are proud Angelenos as well!

How did you prepare to capture the spirit and feeling of Los Angeles in such a short amount of time?

In short, by shooting A LOT. We shot for 3 days across LA, moving locations multiple times within each day. And even still, I think we were only able to capture a SMALL FRACTION of the diversity Los Angeles has to offer. Because we wanted the film to feel like it was taking place in only a few moments during the day, we decided to focus on scenes that made the most sense at that time period — midday — so that helped narrow the search.

We spent days leading up the shoot driving around and looking at and scouting all of the various neighborhoods. But in the end, I realized that between myself and my crew, we’ve been subconsciously “scouting” LA the whole time we’ve lived here. So most of the ideas for scenes and locations started from a simple “hey, I have an idea” from either myself or someone on our production.

Such a welcoming message is so relevant in the current political climate. Is there an aspect that is particularly meaningful for you?

As a mixed-race transplant to Los Angeles, the sheer open-armed diversity of the city has meant the world to me since arriving here. And we really wanted to make a non-statement statement by featuring that in the film. To me, the piece just FEELS like Los Angeles. But clearly, in CONTRAST to the current political climate and conventions of much of what we see in the media, the diversity in the film stands out to people. We only feature one single straight, white character in the whole film. But the best part to me is that I feel like we weren’t trying to STAND OUT by casting it this way, but more just truly represent the diversity that exists within Los Angeles.

And the degree to which this piece has been embraced and shared has been incredible. It’s so easy to be cynical, on the internet especially, and in times like these. But to see so many people embrace a simple, positive message and share their pride in the city we all live in is the best.

Discover Los Angeles

If you connect with the message of celebrating diversity as much as we do, please share the ‘Everyone is Welcome’ video far and wide.

And even if you’re a resident, be sure to check out the Discover LA website — it offers great tips for things to do, and how to get around most efficiently. Here’s to our great city, because it’s like no other!

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