Special Report: Turn-of-year TV ad campaigns

Kuoni and Royal Caribbean may have opted against TV advertising this season, but many suppliers have once again sought to make a splash on screen. Marketing expert Steve Dunne reviews seven of them

Turning away from TV advertising could be a smart move but it might not work for all brands, says Steve Dunne, chief executive of marketing consultancy Digital Drums and vice-chairman of the Cim Travel Group

When I started out in marketing it was all about print or broadcast. You could almost set your watch by the traditional Boxing Day TV advertising, with summer holiday ads to battle the post-Christmas blues.

So I can imagine a few raised eyebrows at the news that Kuoni and Royal Caribbean have shifted the emphasis of their turn‑of‑year campaigns away from TV in favour of channels such as radio, digital and social media. Are two of the industry’s biggest brands ahead of the curve or going down a less-trodden route?

Whatever your view, there is no denying that how we consume content is changing. The argument for switching from TV advertising is strong, but other channels present challenges. Holidays are visual, which is not easy to get across on the radio, and while social media may be good for brand building, the jury is still out on selling through it.

It all boils down to target audience. For some travel brands, moving away from TV could be the smart thing to do, but for others it might not be. Only time will tell how these two brands fare, but every travel company should watch their campaigns with interest – it may be the start of a seismic shift for travel marketing.

Thomas Cook

Rocking it & The Chase
3 out of 5

Thomas Cook has approached things a little differently this year with two different advertisements aimed at different markets – a family-focused advert, entitled ‘Rocking it’ and a couples focused advert entitled ‘The Chase’.

The campaign also heralded the return of the much-loved strap line ‘Don’t just book it, Thomas Cook it’ which was dropped in 2013.

Segmentation and targeting is the key to good advertising and for that Thomas Cook should be applauded. ‘Rocking it’ displays all the vibrancy and colour of a family holiday and the strategic thinking behind it is sound. It will no doubt resonate with the target market.

‘The Chase’, while subtler, is instantly forgettable, needing to be seen several times to resonate.


Cross the ‘Ts, dot the ‘Is, and put ‘U’ in the middle 
5 out of 5

While not strictly a turn of year campaign (it’s been running since the autumn) the current Tui TV advert is a holiday booking classic.

Strong production values underpin an upbeat and vibrant music bed that lifts the post-Christmas lull and is coupled with a dance sequence that manages to take in pools, beaches, restaurants and attentive staff.

The concept of putting the customer at the centre of a Tui holiday is evident in the lyrics of the song, while the strap line – ‘Cross the ‘Ts, dot the ‘Is, and put ‘U’ in the middle’ is the perfect payoff for the advert.

Tui definitely set the bench mark for the sector with this advert.


I’m Ready For This
5 out of 5

Some may get sniffy about a brand running a familiar TV advert throughout key times of the year, or repackaging it for the turn of the year campaign – but then some of the most iconic adverts on TV, like Coca Cola’s ‘Holidays are coming’ are positively celebrated by the public each time they appear.

While not quite in the Coca Cola league, Jet 2’s ‘I’m ready for this’ is rapidly becoming the travel sector’s version of an old familiar favourite that triggers thoughts about holidays.

The song is vibrant and loud. The imagery suggests the best holidays have to offer and you can imagine consumers across the country starting to turn their thoughts to booking a holiday when seeing this.

First Choice

3 out of 5

For brands, the challenge in TV advertising is often a simple one – how do you stand out from the crowd in a fiercely competitive arena?

First Choice’s answer is ‘mahoosive’. The two-minute advertisement, featuring a rapping family, sees the brand take a big risk that you can’t help thinking will only go one of two ways; consumers will either love it or hate it.

The rap works hard, with all the key brand propositions contained in the lyrics as we hear about the brand being “Grand masters at the all-inclusive, Black belt in no bar bills”.

However, the concept wears a bit thin after 30 seconds or so and could have some consumers turn off or miss the messages altogether.

On The Beach

3 out of 5

When it comes to TV advertising, On The Beach has always been one of the more innovative and entertaining brands to sell holidays.

Their ‘Austria’ advert and their ‘Lounge on beach lover’ campaigns of previous years were cheeky and memorable and gave the brand real personality that resonated with a portion of the market.

This year however they have gone down a more conventional route with a sandcastle character highlighting the brand’s product offering.

While production values are high the advert doesn’t quite portray the personality of the brand in the same way that previous campaigns did.

It’s a good, solid advert, and ticks many boxes, but not as memorable as previous efforts.

P&O Cruises

This is The Life
4 out of 5

When you have a winning strategy, it makes sense to stick with it, which is exactly what P&O Cruises has done this year by using Rob Brydon and the strap line ‘This is the life’.

By using the familiar format but with a new script, the advert appears both reassuringly familiar but also has a new appeal.

Rob Brydon has been all over television this Christmas season and he comes across in the advertisement as a trusted and believable voice that will really connect with viewers.

With gentle humour, Brydon and his partner reminisce about a wonderful cruise experience bringing out neatly all the key features of a P&O cruise.

For people who already cruise, this advert will be a winner and I would confidently forecast that it may even get those yet to cruise to consider giving P&O a try.


A Breath of Fresh Air
4 out of 5

Haven’s TV advertisement this year is a real lesson in getting your product displayed clearly in a 30 second window – which is no mean feat.

Using a couple of young girls riding bikes through a Haven holiday park, all the features of a Haven holiday are relayed to the viewer against vibrant, colourful scenes and with an upbeat energetic music bed.

If you are the target market for this type of holiday the advert is memorable and will resonate with you quickly.

A good call to action rounds off a really good effort.

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