By UTalkMarketing Editor, Clark Turner.
Marketing Director for Thomas Cook, Simon Carter, has slammed campaigns from some of his competitors as being “down market”.
So who better to ask about how to make a great travel ad campaign than Simon himself.
Determine your USP
“The peak season for the travel industry with people purchasing holidays is from Boxing Day to March. That’s not just true for Thomas Cook, but for our competitors too,” he told us.
“We’re also a Superbrand, appearing in the top 100 brand league in the UK, as voted for by customers. Finally, our company is 200-years-old this year. We were travel pioneers and have been in this business a long time.”
“We wanted to add all these factors together in a campaign that would associate us with travel.”
Come up with an original idea
The thrust of the latest ‘Vote for an extra day’ campaign sees Thomas Cook acting as a consumer champion and lobbying the Government for an extra Bank Holiday.
Britons receive eight Bank Holidays a year compared to their European counterparts who receive 12.
“This is our most exciting campaign to date - a true innovation,” said Carter. “The industry has forgotten about the excitement consumers associate with travel.
“Buying a holiday is the biggest purchase of the year for some people and not enough is being done to entice consumers with advertising.”
He added, “We always have to sell holidays at the end of the day but when a brand is strong enough it can step outside a pure commercial message in its advertising.
“It seems to have passed some of our competitors by that many consumers see a holiday as a dream and by their ads can appear down market.”
Timing is everything
Research has shown that the majority of holidaymakers purchase their holidays between Boxing Day and March.
The first wave of the new campaign was launched with a 60’ ad on Boxing Day shot in South Africa and highlighting the ‘unfairness’ of Bank Holidays in the UK.
A call to action asked consumers to sign Thomas Cook’s petition for an extra Bank Holiday.
“Two thirds signed online, one-third in-store and to date more than 100,000 signatures have been collected,” said Carter.
A 40’ ad was used to maintain momentum following the launch.
Phase two has seen the unveiling of another TV execution. The holiday operator is following through the launch message with a new one promoting the fact they are releasing millions of holidays that include a free extra day.
“We launched with an emotive message and are now following that through with a commercial one, “explained Carter.
The campaign will run until March 2008.
The Thomas Cook TV campaign is being carried out through the line.
ATL support includes radio and press. Outdoor involves some 3,500 48-sheets sites across the UK.
A dedicated microsite has been developed to host the campaign petition and ambient and rich media have also been embraced to ensure the message is fully communicated.
The campaign message is even being stretching to Thomas Cook airlines – with the campaign’s voting message painted on the side of a number of fleet of 42 planes.
Guerrilla activity has involved the innovative use of traffic signs to carry the campaign message and ‘petitioners’ on the streets engaging with the public.
The campaign has been rolled out into a POS campaign featuring in more than 800 Thomas Cook High Street stores throughout the country with window displays inviting customers to sign the ‘Extra Bank Holiday’ petition in-store.
As well as being available online at thomascook.com the petition will also feature in-flight and at resort welcome meetings.
The backing track to the TV ad is a special recording of the classic Dinah Washington song ‘What a difference a day makes’. It has been installed across all Thomas Cook sales centres and Head Office sites as the company’s new ‘on-hold’ music – serving as a ’campaign reminder’ to all calling customers.
In addition social media marketing has seen the creation of a ‘Vote for an extra Bank Holiday’ group on Facebook with more than 6,500 members signed up.
Key elements to include in great travel ad
According to Carter any great travel ad should contain emotion, excitement, passion, ambition and a smile.
“Don’t forget going on holiday is a happy occasion and your ads should reflect that,” he added.
Maintain momentum throughout the year
The majority of holidaymakers may purchase their main holiday between Boxing Day and March but habits are changing.
Consumers are increasingly taking a second or third breaks during a year and Thomas Cook is tailoring its marketing accordingly.
So, although the big push is from Boxing Day to March, further activity throughout the year addresses these holidaymakers.
Embrace the digital age
“Thomas Cook was the first travel operator to have a website,” said Carter. “The low cost airlines have revolutionised travel enabling consumers to fly more often and that’s something we welcome.
“Consumers are consuming media more and more on an increasingly diverse range of platfoms and so we need to beon those platforms. Display, PPC and e-mail marketing are all tools we are harnessing in the digital space.”
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