The one thing to get Americans spending at your destination.

There are countless beautiful women out there, but only a handful exude such strength of character, such fierceness combined with grace and vulnerability, that they knock your socks off. Lauren Hutton is one of those women. Smashcult blog. 

Who is Lauren Hutton? Lauren Hutton is an American model and actress aged 77 years who became a model to save money to travel and experience the colorful style of the Kenyan Maasai and other cultures.

Town and Country magazine called her ‘the coolest model ever and has appeared on the front cover of Vogue magazine a record 27 times.

Hello, my name is Castro Ambiyo, Founder and CEO of Place Brand Africa. Let me welcome all of you to our first episode in our Place Brand Africa series and what better place to start than with my home country Kenya.

Today’s episode is inspired by little nuggets picked from a youtube episode of Architecture Digest that featured Naomi Campbell’s Malindi home. You can get a background to this and watch the full video on my LinkedIn page  

In this episode, we want to focus on just one word out of the many words in the video “SMILE”

Here is what Naomi says in the AD Video, ‘the first time I heard about Kenya was from my mother’s elder sister, my aunt June. And then the second time I heard about Kenya was from the legendary Lauren Hutton, who always said to me, when she would go to Kenya to revitalize after working, she always said ‘I would come back with a real smile’. “When you get back from Kenya, you’re gonna have a real smile.”

In twitterville they would say ‘that’s the tweet’; ‘When you get back from Kenya, you’re gonna have a real smile’ and in the marketing communication campaignville or what you all call advertising, I want to tell you ‘that’s Kenya’s tourism recovery campaign. Full stop.

Now back to Lauren Hutton. Why would a smile be such a great motivator for travel to Kenya?

It’s been one year and going of a masked world. The mask though important in protecting all of us against Covid has obscured some of the facial cues that people rely on to connect with others.

Masks have also taught us some important lessons on cultural differences in emotion.

A study by Jeanne Tsai a scholar at Standford University on smiling in a masked world strengthens the need for Kenya to run a smile campaign as we wait for the world to open up. The study states that ‘these face coverings make it harder for people to see others’ emotions including their smiles which facilitate social connections. Tsai goes on to state that this is particularly true for North Americans who tend to focus on people’s mouths when reading their emotions.

Aha! Now we begin to understand why Lauren Hutton and Naomi Campbell are all camped on the real Kenyan smile.

The Stanford study goes on to state that the mouth seems particularly important in the United States partly because mouths are a critical part of conveying big smiles and for Americans, bigger smiles are better.

North Americans judge people with bigger smiles to be more friendly and trustworthy. They value high-energy positive emotions like excitement and enthusiasm which tend to evoke big smiles and when you give them bigger smiles, the region in their brain associated with rewards like money becomes more active. So if you want an American to spend in your destination; serve big smiles.

The study concludes that ‘masks cover up the part of the face that North Americans may find most pleasing, and that they rely upon to distinguish friend from foe.’

It is thus clear that there is something we are doing right as a destination to have the United States as Kenya’s number one source market. We are serving big wide smiles and they carry that effect of a real smile back home- that is what travel should do- revitalize.

So why not run a campaign around smiling. Why not remind the world of how beautiful our smiles behind the one-year mask? Let us use our smiles to evoke some excitement and enthusiasm at this grey time in our lives and keep reminding them that ours in the words of Lauren Hutton and Naomi Campbell are Real Smiles served to the world.

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