OTAs lose out to high street in review of turn-of-year advertising campaigns

OTAs lose out to high street in review of turn-of-year advertising campaigns

Online travel agents didn’t fare too well in an independent review of this year’s turn-of-year advertising campaigns.

As the peak season got underway, Travel Weekly asked marketing expert Steve Dunne to take a look at the TV commercials for the leading travel brands.

But the likes of Kayak, Travel Republic and On the Beach were rated lower than tour operators such as Thomas Cook and Thomson and featured lower in the pecking order than cruise lines P&O and Royal Caribbean.

See Dunne’s verdict and watch the adverts below.

On the Beach- Lounge on

This year’s On the Beach campaign doesn’t quite reach the heights of last year’s ad for me, but it’s effective nonetheless. The theme is strong enough and the script drives home the emphasis on lounging and relaxing. The ability to tailor the holiday and be in charge of all facets of an On the Beach break is strongly communicated by the voiceover, while the leadcharacter lounges in various guises and holiday scenes. Will it inspire the viewer to take action? I feel it will – to its target audience anyway. 6/10

Kayak- My tools 30

Kayak has hit the TV screen this year with a 30-second advert featuring and narrated by extreme snowboarding legend Jeremy Jones. The imagery is strong with some stunning photography, and the sentiments and words will no doubt resonate with the target audience. However, save for the website address in the call to action, it comes across very much as a US TV advert trying to appeal to an altogether different UK market, leaving me to wonder if that will hamper its ability to cut through to a wider British audience. 5/10

Travel Republic- Yours for the making

Travel Republic’s approach to its TV advertising campaign is a much more traditional one than previous outings. Soft, relaxing music, a calming voiceover and bright holiday imagery blend together to create a very watchable advert. Certainly the message of tailoring a holiday to meet your needs is driven home, both in the voiceover script and in the sign-off in the final clip. However, at the end of the advert I felt it failed to enable the brand to stand out from all the other travel adverts crowding our screens. 5/10

Virgin Holidays – Seize the holiday

The Virgin brand is well known for its marketing nous. You expect them to have a cool advertising campaign and this year’s ‘Seize The Holiday’ is just that. A strong music bed and bright imagery abound as holidaymakers run into a sea of inflatables.

TV adverts are produced primarily to sell a holiday through the brand advertising its wares, and this is where the Virgin advert is one of the strongest. There is a sense of urgency, from the word ‘Sale’ spelt out in inflatables to the voiceover telling us: “The Virgin Holidays Sale is now on – it won’t last forever.” The strapline ‘Seize The Holiday’ seems designed to galvanise the viewing public into doing just that. 9/10

Thomas Cook- You want we do

It was only a few years ago that Cook was presenting the public with some of the most dire advertising on TV. However, it has since come a long way and its latest offering – ‘You want We Do’ – is very much on the money and will appeal strongly to the mainstream British holidaymaker.

Set against a high-energy upbeat cover of The Temptations’ Get Ready and featuring 24 clips in 30 seconds showing typical family holiday  activities, it is a bright, fun, energetic advert ideally pitched to enthuse the consumer into considering a holiday during these long winter nights. To finish, it highlights a strong payment plan incentive and an effective call to action. A good effort. 8/10

Jet2holidays – Hold your hand

If you want to make a great holiday advert that is going to appeal to a mainstream post-Christmas, lethargic and perhaps slightly depressed audience, then you need to have a highoctane piece of music and bright imagery to grab their attention and inspire them to go on holiday.

This advert, featuring Jess Glynne’s Hold My Hand, follows a young boy holding his parent’s hand as we see him carry luggage to the airport, try on sunglasses, snorkel in the sea, visit an all-you-can-eat buffet and jump in the hotel pool. It stands out, is memorable and leaves you wanting to get away and live life to the full. It’s a very strong candidate in the holiday advert stakes. 8/10

Kuoni- Travel out of the ordinary

The accompanying PR around Kuoni’s offering talked about its TV advertisement positioning the brand as “more than the Maldives” and on that score it achieves its objective. The production values of the advert are impressive.

As viewers, we follow a floating swimmer through a series of travel scenes, including European cities, African savannahs, cruise ships and the Far East. Subtle music evokes a feeling of relaxation and subtitles highlight Kuoni’s association with John Lewis, which will appeal to the target audience. The Kuoni sale features prominently in the last clip, acting as a strong conclusion and call to action. It’s an effective advert. 8/10

Thomson- Moments

This year marks the final Thomson TV ad campaign before the iconic holiday name is subsumed into the Tui brand. Recently it’s been Thomson that has set the bar for TV ads, with the likes of Simon the Ogre and Miles the Bear, and the use of powerful music beds like Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

This year, Thomson takes its inspiration from the viral internet hit the Mannequin Challenge. The advert features a girl walking from the beach towards her father in a swimming pool – with ‘moments’ frozen around her – before jumping into his arms. As a TV holiday advert, it has everything required, but it doesn’t hit the previous heights achieved by this iconic brand 7/10

Royal Caribbean- Where extraordinary happens

Royal Caribbean’s latest offering is far from a typical cruise TV advert. Gone are references to signature chefs or West End shows on board. Instead it focuses on the land-based experiences that can be enjoyed while on a cruise.

The production values are superb as the advert builds up your curiosity between clips of latitude and longitude coordinates and a stunning scene. And the strapline ‘Where Extraordinary Happens’ is a powerful hook. Would it make a cruise virgin choose a cruise? I’m not entirely convinced. Would it make an experienced cruise consumer switch from another cruise brand to Royal Caribbean? Very possibly. 7/10

P&O Cruises- This is life

P&O Cruises’ advert, featuring Rob Brydon, is starting to become a familiar part of the TV advertising landscape forthe turn of year. This year’s advert has a certain charm brought to it by Brydon’s narration and acting, all set to the gentle music bed of the old Morecambe & Wise Show theme tune Bring Me Sunshine. If you are a cruise fan you will no doubt love it, although I’m not convinced it would make you switch brands. If you are a cruise virgin it may not resonate powerfully enough with you. 6/10

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