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Travel will get their ‘man on the moon’, eventually…

Once again, the post-prandial lull between Christmas and New Year involved a fair bit of stupefied slumping before the telly. I know, proper old school. Much like the growing number of travel and holiday companies ‘throwing their money away’ for the privilege of getting in front of all those people who ‘don’t watch TV anymore’.

I can only surmise that the (proven) fact that brand advertising improves online visibility, preference and commercial performance has caught on.

As for the vanishing TV audiences, it is interesting to note how much social media content and comment revolved around Downton, Sherlock, Doctor Who, etc, over the festive period. Is it possible that reports of TV’s demise have been somewhat premature and exaggerated?

In any event, I for one am pleased that poor old (school) TV is still clinging on to marketing directors’ media schedules by its close-bitten fingernails. If nothing else, it gives me plenty to criticise and to have arguments with colleagues about.

It’s poor form – and some will say sour grapes – to snipe at other agencies’ work, but in the highly subjective territory of creative appreciation, surely there is room for some objective critique?

Take Virgin Holidays ‘Dream Bigger Sale’ ad. It’s going for the bigger and better, cinematic drama thang. And on a large screen telly, with the volume high, it will stand out. I guess there is a bit of the Virgin character to it, but I am still, ever-so-slightly, left feeling that other brands’ logos could have come up at the end of that ad. Which may be why the Virgin Holidays logo also comes up at the start. Possibly.

In other news, The Bear is Back, accompanied by the William Shatner/Queen double act (well, if you’re going to pay through the nose to borrow brand fame, you might as well milk it). It’s kind of sweet, inoffensive and a good vehicle to showcase all the destinations and experiences that Thomson (or is it TUI?) can offer its lucky customers. I dislike this year’s offering less than last year’s launch/introduction. Perhaps because it is a bit more about holidays than bears. And there isn’t a plastic unicorn anywhere to be seen.

If we are going to get really picky, my Creative Director’s question is worth putting out there: what is an adult couple, with no kids in sight, doing with a teddy bear on holiday? Just saying.

Thomas Cook’s new ad certainly divided opinion here. My first reaction was: Be bold? What’s ownable by the Thomas Cook brand in that? But I must admit the ad has grown on me. It has…personality. As long as the brand can live up to it, it’s a nice space to inhabit as a holiday brand – like Virgin sort of used to.

As for First Choice – nice! A differentiated brand story, and gentle nod to a previous ad where the chap in the glasses was the hero, and was feted everywhere he went. There’s a real purpose to this ad. A straight (but enticing) version of some of what Booking.com has been doing. Good move to feature just one female protagonist (did you even spot the family joining her at the end?) And I am so glad the oversized exaggerated nonsense from the previous year has been ditched.

Another interesting example is a pureplay online brand that sees the value of building brand awareness (after a self-confessed 10 year hiatus) and has chosen TV as the ideal platform: Cheapflights. They clearly believe in the mantra of ‘if you’re going to do it, do it properly’, and in my opinion, they have. They’ve used the medium as it should be used: to be entertaining and engaging. There is also a nice, neat brand story holding the whole thing together.

And it has worked for them. They’ve see record-breaking online traffic, which backs up their MD’s assertion that ‘we need to be brave in travel’. Hear, hear.

There’s more, but I think I’ve both flattered and offended sufficiently for now.

Suffice to say that it is my firmly held view that every volume-driven brand that invests in awareness advertising (and particularly TV) will see the benefit in terms of search traffic, visits, enquiries and quotes (no ad in the world can help with conversion – that’s down to the business).

But those brands that tell their own, individual, differentiating and above all memorable story will do best of all.

 

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