Fresh from two days spent listening to some insightful talks and mixing with the global travel industry’s deal-makers at London’s World Travel Market (WTM), I was perhaps ready-primed when I heard a spot on the radio for Thomson, the UK’s biggest travel company, who have now rebranded to ‘TUI’. Working in advertising, every so often we see an ad campaign, a visual or perhaps just a slogan that we wish we’d come up with – and this was one such instance.
It’s hard to have missed the campaign since its September launch (they are aiming to reach around 63% of the population, after all) but the radio ad strapline to which I refer is ‘We cross the ‘Ts’, dot the ‘Is’ and put ‘U’ in the middle’. Simple, obvious and brilliant.
However, while a copywriter’s moment of inspiration brought the campaign to my attention, on further reading what really interested me is the connected approach TUI have taken, using a broad range of traditional broadcast and more focussed digital media across the campaign.
Although this campaign specifically is a huge, global re-branding one, with less a direct response requirement, in an increasingly digital world it is important to note the breadth of media used, especially that of a traditional nature and how brands need still consider these formats as options for long-term growth and success over purely direct response, digital-only campaigns.
Marketing in the Era of Accountability
A decade ago, Les Binet and Peter Field published a seminal piece of marketing analysis for the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) drawn from over 800 IPA case studies, dating back 25 years. The key learning from the research was that advertising campaigns which appeal to emotions are more effective at every level than those which are purely rational, but this suggestion raised the issue for marketers of balancing long-term effectiveness with the capacity for immediate measurement and recognition.
In 2013, Binet and Field updated their study with the release of The Long and Short of It – Balancing Short and Long-Term Marketing Strategies, this time mined from nearly 1,000 IPA advertising effectiveness case studies. The title is self-explanatory, with the analysis tackling the issue of short-termism and decisively advocating a 60:40 ratio of long-term brand-building media (broad reach, emotive) and short-term sales activation (highly targeted) as the optimum balance.
Fast forward to this summer (2017) and the latest iteration, Media in Focus – Marketing Effectiveness in the Digital Era, maintains this view of a long-term strategy and a balance of brand and activation media, even in such digitally advanced times.
The Media Day
According to IPA Touchpoints 2017, the average adult now spends 7 hours 56 minutes a day consuming media. Worth noting, is despite the proliferation of digital media and our inability to detach from our smartphone, the Media Day comprises interactions across radio, news brands, out of home and TV as well as, of course, the internet and social media.
These findings and recognition of the need to connect with and reach people across a myriad of media appear to have been embraced by TUI within their campaign, which is already demonstrating success.
The foundations for the re-brand media campaign were laid in earnest in May of this year via a CRM campaign engaging their 5m loyal customers and a special edition of their magazine, sent to a large section of this database. The choice to use such a traditional format to communicate with nearly a third of its core customers is itself a considered marketing decision given the brand’s bold declaration last year that they will phase-out holiday brochures by 2020, in recognition of its customers’ change in holiday planning behaviour.
The Big Splash for TUI Campaign Launch
The media campaign launched in late September 2017 with a high-profile TV ad spot during ITV’s The X Factor of a man diving into a pool simply accompanied by the pragmatic message ‘Thomson is changing to TUI’. More recently, a new TV creative has debuted, featuring a musical-inspired theme, with an unknown actress representing the ‘you’ at the centre of its production. The TV investment will then continue with bespoke sponsorship idents running across Sky One over the next 12 months to further cement the brand throughout the seasonal peaks and troughs of travel.
Choosing to launch with such a prominent and expensive TV ad spot demonstrates the value that big brands still recognise in this classic advertising medium. Still the quickest way to achieve brand fame and top-line growth, this launch spot was deliberately placed within a show which not only has a large viewing audience but also a broad-ranging, cross-generational one which TUI’s core customers inhabit and where linear, communal viewing is still the norm.
The connected media approach has then been extended across radio, print, out of home and digital with the now essential emphasis across social channels.
Thousands of roadside six-sheets in major cities, bus T-sides around Greater London and selected large format digital outdoor screens will combine to provide impact, reach and frequency along with contextually relevant media across all UK and Ireland airports. Of course, the added ability to brand the exterior of your very own Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner is a bonus not all brands can access.
Recognising the importance of the public’s correct pronunciation of the brand name has not been overlooked either, with radio helping communicate this across a national and digital heavyweight campaign.
And despite the beating that press continues to take, TUI have invested heavily in cover wraps and premium display formats across Metro.
Complementing this wealth of offline media is extensive digital activity where the broadcast approach is balanced with the hyper-targeting afforded by social media and online in general. YouTube takeovers, Snapchat, Spotify and display across premium sites such as MailOnline and Tripadvisor will help drive home the brand message through targeted, engaging formats which enable tailored, personalised communications with their audiences in a contextually relevant way.
As travel consumers’ planning, research and booking path has evolved to one where they now jump between multiple sources and phases of the journey, it is no surprise to learn over 60% of TUI’s bookings come via online and so they have placed an emphasis on digital which will help provide the more granular measurement which is harder to accurately attribute offline.
Even a tongue-in-cheek attempt by rival Thomas Cook to spoof the TUI ad across Facebook and Twitter seemingly had the opposite-to-desired effect, with user comments generally being positive towards TUI and questioning Thomas Cook’s need to even pass comment.
Though not yet apparent, perhaps TUI have already considered how user-generated content (UGC), similar to that seen in some of its previous activity, may complement their campaign’s next phase, with customers able to truly be the ‘you’ in the centre of the story. As social media has become an essential weapon within every marketer’s armoury, this is especially relevant for travel brands where lines between UGC, brand advocacy and social influencers can be effectively blurred.
Influencer Outreach at WTM 2017
At WTM, several talks delivered by brands, media and influencers covered in-depth how brands who get this approach right find it hugely beneficial in growing brand and engagement but also following through to customer conversion.
Although it is still early days for the campaign and the brand’s very real concerns of migrating its brand equity and wealth of organic online traffic to the new TUI.co.uk domain, a recent YouGov brand tracker study shows how TUI’s Ad Awareness score (based on ad recall within the past fortnight) has spiked significantly since campaign launch, moving from +2 to +25 and from +3 to +29 with its target demographic of those likely or very likely to travel in the next year.
It has also seen an increase in its Buzz score, which is based on whether someone has heard something positive regarding the brand over the past two weeks, from +1 to +7. This has also positively impacted its Word of Mouth Exposure score, rising from +1 to +6 since the first ad spot aired in September.
As UK household internet take-up hits 88%, smartphone ownership reaches more than seven in ten and the depth of online targeting continues to increase it could be easy to dismiss non-digital advertising channels at first glance. However, an integrated, connected media plan across multiple media touchpoints is a proven, effective route to long-term success and worth consideration for any brand.
Perhaps TUI’s long-sighted planning, understanding of the delineated path to purchase and further use of social influencer marketing will be the foundations which stand them in good stead in an ever-evolving landscape.
Senior Account Director