Special Report: A marketing expert’s verdict on travel firms’ 2021/22 TV adverts

As the sector enters a critical peaks, Digital Drums chief executive Steve Dunne assesses travel brands’ TV adverts for their messaging, targeting and inspiration

After a torrid two years, and international travel uncertainty still very apparent going in to 2022, it perhaps takes courage to be advertising to consumers who might lack confidence in taking an overseas holiday this year.

But marketing fortunes favour the brave. Some of the most successful brands, such as Google, Microsoft, Netflix and Airbnb, were formed in recessions or downturns.

While the number of travel TV adverts this year is not as plentiful as in the past, and with many brands choosing to recycle previous ads, there are still a number of travel brands that have taken a deep breath and gone for it.

The key difference for this year’s advertisements needed to be in the messaging. In 2022, it is not enough to just ignite consumers’ interests in travelling. Travel brands need to instil confidence, being convincingly reassuring that whatever 2022 throws, it will be safe to travel with the brand. Trust will be the deciding factor.

Yet, surprisingly, the trust message was rarely played. When it was, it came across forcefully and resonated powerfully.

With marketing budgets tight, targeting will be vital. Again, the stronger candidates were tightly targeted in their campaigns, which will help their brands resonate with audiences.

Kuoni ‘Travel On’

I have long been an admirer of the marketing nous of Kuoni, and this year the operator has once again led from the front.

Of all the current travel advertisements, it is Kuoni’s ‘Travel On’ campaign that focuses its messaging on the key concern of the 2022 travel consumer – confidence.

The advertisement, running in cinemas and on-demand channels, is all about inspiring one to travel but simultaneously reassuring consumers’ need for confidence around booking a holiday in a world where things can change in an instant.

The 30-second advertisement, set against a snappy and familiar music bed, shows various stages of preparation for travel, once again focusing on the forgotten suitcase at the back of a wardrobe introduced in a previous Kuoni ad, interlaced with inspirational travel scenes from around the world and finishing with the tagline “For total peace of mind, trust Kuoni” over an inspiring beach scene.

For me, the advertisement ticks all the boxes. But what pushes it to the front is that it zeroes in on the one thing people will want from a travel brand more than anything else in 2022 – trust.

It’s something many other travel brands have yet to latch on to.


Jet2holidays ‘Holidays are go’

Jet2holidays’ 2022 turn-of-year campaign includes three versions of a 40-second ad.

Each follows the Jet2 formula of a few years – the familiar Jess Glynne Hold my Hand music bed underpinning bright scenes of holidaymakers in the sun while a narrator, and captions, run through the benefits of luggage allowance, free kids’ places and low deposits – all against prominent branding on planes, coaches and staff.

I’ve long been an admirer of Jet2’s no-nonsense approach to sales and marketing, and this campaign perfectly reflects the brand’s approach.

There is, of course, the question of when to change a tried and tested format, but then Coca-Cola’s ‘Holidays are coming’ Christmas ad has run every year since 1995 and is a cause of celebration in most British households. Like a comfortable pair of slippers – and I write that with affection– Jet2’s ad is familiar, simple and straightforward.


On The Beach ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’

Over the years, On the Beach has established a very distinctive style of television advertisement and this year’s offering holds true to what has been a winning formula for the operator.

Set on a music bed of Andy Williams’ Christmas classic The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, the advert manages to blend the feeling of the Christmas season, when viewers first saw the advertisement, with everything we love about summer holidays.

It’s bright, fun and full of vibrant colours and focuses on a family’s observations, experiences and desires from a summer holiday. If any advertisement is going to ignite your desire to get to the beach and enjoy the sun, it’s this one.

As a marketing man, the part I appreciated most of all was the branding. From the backing singers singing the brand name to the tagline at the end (including the Atol-bonded sign-off), there was no mistaking who was responsible for the advertisement.

Another great effort from On the Beach.


Saga ‘Experience is Everything’

As one of the UK’s most consistently successful travel brands in terms of loyal customers and repeat business, Saga, it could be argued, has been plagued by its success – seen as a holiday brand for the elderly.

But a successful marketing strategy is about playing to your strengths while turning your perceived weaknesses into a plus. That is what Saga has done effectively in its ‘Experience is Everything’ campaign, designed to appeal to the over-50s who do not see themselves as old.

As a child of the 1970s, I very much identified with Saga’s turn-of-year ad in which actor Nicholas Farrell reflects back to past holidays. Most Brits of the age Saga is trying to connect with remember wet summers by the British seaside or inclement weather while staying in primitive caravans with low-grade entertainment. While we look back on those days with a tinge of sentimentality, these days we all feel we “deserve a bit of luxury”, which is Saga’s tagline. It’s fun and clever and will get the target audience reminiscing about past holidays while confirming what they want this year.


Shearings ‘Let’s Enjoy The Journey Together’

Given the fast-changing travel restrictions, overseas holidays are likely to be unappealing for some consumers in 2022. So domestic holidays may appeal to specific demographics, particularly older groups.

This year’s TV advertisement from coach tour company Shearings, ‘Let’s Enjoy the Journey Together’, is a masterclass in understanding the target audience and saying and showing the elements of a holiday that will resonate with them in 30 seconds.

Emphasising features such as local departures, Shearings’ knowledgeable and friendly uniformed drivers and travel with like-minded people, the advertisement takes the viewer for a spin around some famous British landmarks while showing the branded coaches and smiling customers with a female narrator talking in a rhythmic tone of voice. The emphasis on value for money and deposits from £1 will resonate with the target audience who will want confidence in booking

For me the advert was warm and charming, if a little cheesy. But for conveying the strongest message to its target audience, this advertisement is up there with the best of them.


Tui ‘Live Happy’

Tui’s ‘Live Happy’ campaign has been around since October, part of the operator’s campaign to showcase its “breadth of offering” as it seeks to reposition its brand. But having graced the turn-of-year TV screens it is included in our review.

It’s a lively, almost classic holiday advertisement with a fast-paced music bed underpinning an equally fast-paced series of holiday scenes from beach to ski and from culture to indulgence.

As it had run since before the Christmas season, there could be debate about its effectiveness against new turn-of-year adverts, but for me there was a question around distinctiveness. Although the Tui logo is on screen throughout, I wasn’t convinced the advert makes the brand memorable. This advert would spur me to rush to book a holiday, I’m just not sure it would necessarily prompt me to book a Tui one.


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