Google Street View and SheepView360 on the Faroe Islands
The Faroes Were Not Mapped by Google Until 2016
It is easy to think you can see the whole world on Google Street View, but many areas are not yet mapped. The internet giant’s Google Earth website is amazing, but the images captured focus on urban areas. Most of the photography is done by a 360-degree rotating camera fixed on top of a vehicle. If an area is inaccessible to bikes or cars it is a low priority for the project.
The Faroes are a scenic archipelago in the middle of the North Sea. Around 49,000 people live there together with double that number of sheep. The island chain is almost equidistant from Iceland, Norway and the UK, and tourism forms an important source of income.
Tourists hoping to view the Faroe Islands online found the island group was missing from Street View. Their disappointment was shared by the Faroese because the stunning scenery and picturesque buildings are a key part of selling the Faroes as a holiday destination. So, in 2016, an enterprising islander, Durita Dahl Andreassen, decided she would get Google to sit up and take notice of them.
The Faroese Archipelago is Between Iceland, Norway and the UK
80,000 Free-Ranging Sheep to the Rescue
The key to Durita’s plan were the free-roaming sheep of the Faroes. The native Faroese sheep are sure-footed and graze unfettered across the hills and fells. There is virtually no part of the islands they cannot access (unlike a car or bike). With a camera strapped to its back, a sheep would be able to photograph parts of the islands normally inaccessible to Google cameras. Durita had the motive and opportunity to map the Faroe Islands; now she just needed the means to carry out her plan.
Success With Viral Marketing #wewantgooglestreetview
Google Street View has a scheme to enable professional photographers and community groups to capture hard-to-reach places. Their 360-degree cameras are available for loan. However, there are only a limited number of cameras available and the application process is competitive.
Durita needed to convince Google that the Faroes mapping project was one they should support. With the help of the local tourism board, Visit Faroe Islands, she began an online campaign to build interest in mapping the Faroes. A couple of solar-powered 360-degree cameras were purchased by the islanders and some hardy sheep were “volunteered” to be sheep-view photographers. A Twitter campaign was started with the hashtag “We want Google Street View”.
#wewantgooglestreetview went viral. Hundreds of thousands of people visited the website Sheepview360 which showcased images from the cameras strapped to the backs of the volunteer sheep. Durita confirms in the video below that no sheep were harmed in the making of this viral marketing campaign.
We Want Google Street View
What Makes a Good Viral Marketing Story?
A David vs Goliath story
The Wow Factor
Breath-taking scenic landscapes
The Aaah Factor
Sheep Cam is unique.
An Achievable Objective
Google came. Case proven.
SheepView360 is an Internet Sensation
The jerky pictures taken by sheep-cam and then uploaded to SheepView360 by Andreasson captured the public’s imagination. Journalists from BBC World News to The Washington Post, from CNN to The Irish Times, talked about, wrote about and shared the story of the plucky islanders taking on the might of Google. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all contributed to the buzz surrounding this story. All the chatter and sharing made this a successful viral marketing campaign that quickly achieved its objectives.
It took less than a year for Google to be moved and impressed by the public’s support for the project. The result was they agreed to provide equipment and training to enable the mapping of the Faroe Isles for Street View. The video below shows how everyone in the community contributed and continues to contribute to this enterprise. Sheep, horses, bikes, boats, wheelbarrows and skateboards are all being used as vehicles to transport the special camera equipment and complete the filming of these islands.
In recognition of the important role played by the pioneer volunteer sheep in this project, David Castro González de Vega, Google Maps Program Manager said “It goes to show – if there’s a wool, there’s a way.”
The Faroes are 18 volcanic islands separated by narrow sounds and fjords arranged roughly in the form of an arrowhead. All but one are inhabited.
They are a self-governing region within Kingdom of Denmark.
The Faroese archipelago is 113km (70 miles) long and 75km (47 miles) wide. Total coastline of 1,100km (687 miles). No point in the Faroe Islands is further than 5km (3 miles) from the sea.— Information from VisitFaroeIslands.com
The Icing on the Cake: Travel Campaign Award Winner 2017
The Faroe Islands’ SheepView360 campaign won the Travel and Tourism Category at the World Media Awards 2017. “Ulrike” (tmf-dialogue.net 04/12/2017) reports that the SheepView360 project had a budget of US $200,000 but managed to generate around US $50 million worth of free publicity. She estimated the campaign received around 2 billion media impressions. This is successful viral marketing by any measure.
The Story Continues to be Newsworthy
This story is a great example of community action achieving positive outcomes.
- Geographical isolation does not mean being cut-off from internet social networks
- Faroe Islands tourism has received a well-deserved boost
- Everyone in the community has a part to play in a project like this