If you were watching this year’s Superbowl, you might have noticed something odd…. footage of blue-footed boobies and sea lions mixed into the standard ads for Coke and McDonalds, to the familiar sounds of the Beatles “All you need is Love.” Ecuador became the first government to invest in a superbowl ad to advertise tourism, coughing up $3.8M for the short 30-second spot. Ecuador wants to increase tourism from the US, which is its second largest market after neighboring Colombia.
As someone who has lived and travelled in Ecuador extensively, friends and family often ask me about the ad. So, I wanted to share the highlights and where they ad were filmed. Maybe you will one day take a “Follow the Superbowl Ad” vacation.
The Ecuador Superbowl Ad
If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out below! Ecuador is known as having “4 mundos” or 4 worlds, because the different zones – highlands, coast, the jungle, and the Galapagos. The short 30-second video covers all “four worlds” of Ecuador
Now, onto the filming locations!…
The Enchanted Islands are the greatest tourist draw for Ecuador, and it shows prominently in the video. You see giant tortoises in the opening, a snorkeler swimming among torpical fish, a head-on shot of a blue-footed booby, and a shot of sea lions playing in the tide…..but you probably already knew that. If you watch the 3:00-long directors cut, you also see a beautiful shot of the almost-antique masted sail ship, though it’s a bit of a misrepresentation because 99% of the cruises in the Galapagos are now motor yachts and cruise ships. The sailing ships that remain just have sails for show and motor between sites. What about the less-known destinations?
The shot of the statues and the interior of a church inlaid all in gold is the famous La Compañía Church in the historic downtown district of Quito. The church took over 100 years to build and the walls are inlaid with hundreds of pounds of gold. It is a must-see on a visit to Quito, and there are tons more churches and historical buildings covering the expansive historical district.
They also include a scene of the gorgeous Quilotoa Lagoon, about 4 hours by bus away from Quito. Quilotoa is a very small town, and tourists come on a long day trip from Quito. It is also possible to hike between small villages in this area on a multi-day trek called the Quilotoa Loop.
Next we come to my favorite city and area of residence, Cuenca. The blue-domes are part of the Cathedral in Parque Calderon, the most central park in the city. If you watch the extended cut, you can also see some of the beloved local musicians playing in Plazoleta El Vado, and indigenous women weaving Panama hats (most likely from neighboring towns Sigsig or Chordeleeg).
There is also a shot of Ecuador’s Railway, a bright red train winding down an impossibly steep mountain side. This area is known as the Nariz del Diablo. There are short train rides that leave from Riobamba, and also a multiday pricey train “cruise” that crosses the entire country.
Guayaquil – the coast
The shot of Guayaquil shows the charming cobblestoned street Numa Pompilio Llona. This short street is the only historic area with colonial architecture left in Guayaquil; the rest was destroyed in fires and the city now has a much more modern and considerably less charming vibe.
There’s also a picture of the pirate ship in the extended version which sails up and down the Guayaquil Malecón boardwalk at night. Most visitors try to avoid Guayaquil as much as possible due to the lack of tourist attractions, muggy weather and reputation for crime. It is interesting (and telling) that the Ministry of Tourism chose to spend several seconds and hundreds of thousands of dollars promoting tourism in this decidedly non-touristy city.
This region of Ecuador perhaps deserves more attention that it gets. It is quite sad reading about the Chevron pollution of the jungle, but there are also some pristine areas where you can take a tour of the Amazon much cheaper than in Brazil. I loved the shots of kayaking in a dugout canoe around sunset, walking along the forest canopy, and tropical birds.
So, how did they do? Did you see the ad? Is Ecuador all you need?None found.