On AMC’s irresistible “Breaking Bad,” now in its final season, “going to Belize” isn’t a good thing. It’s a threat. So when in a recent episode, the sleazy lawyer Saul Goodman (played brilliantly by Bob Odenkirk) suggests that a troublesome character could be, um…”sent to Belize” – well, use your imagination. It didn’t mean mojitos and coastal sunsets, unless that’s your idea of the afterlife.
Fans smirked at the reference, and the Belize Tourism Board noticed. But instead of getting mad and overreacting, as some might have done, or shrugging, as most would have done, the Belize group saw an opportunity.
It moved quickly to take advantage of the mention and to turn a negative reference into positive visibility for the destination. A few days later, Belize invited show runner Vince Gilligan and its key cast members, including stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, to enjoy an actual vacation in Belize, all expenses paid.
The invite was filled with the kind of inside-baseball details that only a true “Breaking Bad” fan would know, and the timing was ideal, since the show recently wrapped after five successful seasons, and the cast is surely in needs of some creative down time (although presumably well able to pay their own way.)
The Belize Tourism Board broke news on its Twitter account with a quirky invitation, where it was picked up by show fans and even covered by The New York Times and other outlets. And though it likely won’t have to make good on the offer of free vacations, it did reap the PR benefits.
There are those times when a well-crafted PR response flows like another day at the beach. Well played, Belize Tourism Board.