Travel companies invested millions of pounds in turn-of-year TV advertising this year, but which ads resonated best with viewers?

To find out, Travel Weekly commissioned SoundOut to gauge the views of its panel of consumers. Lee Hayhurst reports

Great Rail Journeys

The Great Rail Way
great-railThis evocative ad, with a Joanna Lumley voiceover, scored particularly highly among the 35-44 age bracket among both men and women. Reviewers picked out the “relaxing” and “inspiring” imagery and “spectacular scenery” in an advert they felt was clearly aimed at an older age group. The only element of the ad not to score highly was the plot or concept. Ratings overall across all reviewers showed a high level of consensus.

P&O Cruises

poThis Rob Brydon-fronted ad was a real hit with the two older age groups but resonated less well with men and women aged 16-24. Among the ads’ fans, Brydon proved a popular choice and they liked the experiences, the glamour and the aspirational nature of the holidays being promoted. This ad had the highest consensus of the 11 we analysed and was rated as falling down only in terms of the plot and the dialogue.


Hold My Hand
jet2This ad, backed by a Jess Glynne song, left reviewers inspired to book a holiday and was the most highly rated by the younger age groups, particularly men aged 25-34 and women aged 16-24. Some felt the ad was a bit generic and clichéd, but consensus among the sample group was high. The ad scored particularly highly for plot/ concept and setting, but the lack of any dialogue dragged down its generally impressive scores.


A Breath of Fresh Air
havenMaybe it was the two sunglasswearing, tricycle-riding children that made this ad particularly popular with women and helped it claim second spot in all three female age groups. The child-led nature of the ad didn’t appeal to all but fans said it was “playful and innovative” and liked the upbeat backing track. Another ad that appealed most to the 35-44 age group, the characters and production stood out while dialogue and concept let it down.


This is Shearingsshearings
Shearings achieved a consistent fifth among men in all age groups and in the oldest female age group, but proved to be less popular with younger women. Overall, the age group that scored it lowest was 25‑34. Its fans liked the beautiful scenery and attention-grabbing soundtrack, while its more youthful detractors didn’t feel the ad spoke to them or stood out. The setting, characters and plot/concept were highly rated.


A Tui Production
tuiThis advert also scored more highly with men than women. Women aged 25-34, a core audience for Tui, placed it as low as ninth out of the 11 surveyed. A reviewer in the oldest female age bracket described it as “one of the most irritating adverts on TV”. However, other respondents liked its warm and exciting style. Overall, consensus was around average, with characters and plot/concept coming out as the ad’s most highly rated attributes.

Teletext Holidays

We’ve Got all the Ingredients
teletextThis ad split opinion. Some liked the miniaturisation concept and its “short, sharp, slick” production’; others felt it was “boring” and “mediocre”. It scored consistently among men, ranking seventh across all age groups, but was slightly more popular among the two younger female age groups. It was the least well-rated for dialogue and characters, but setting and plot secured it seventh spot overall.

Thomas Cook

Rocking It
Another ad fronted by a child character, Thomas Cook’s offering garnered little consensus among men, ranking third by those aged 25-34 but a lowly ninth by those aged 35-44. Ranked a little more consistently among women, it made the top five only in the youngest age group. The ad scored highest for setting and reviewers liked the “adorable” star but struggled with what the message was and what the ad was promoting.

Rol Cruise

Experience the Difference
rolThis informational ad fronted by TV presenter Jennie Bond focused on the retailer’s loyalty club. It left some reviewers cold, thinking they were being sold life insurance rather than a cruise. Fans liked its no-gimmicks approach, but across all three age groups and both genders it was ranked better than eighth only by women aged 35-44. It’s likely this ad would have been rated higher among older age groups than in this study.

On The Beach

Let’s Get You to the Beach
on-the-beachOn The Beach’s sandcastle-man character and a low rating for production values left this ad by the UK’s leading short-haul OTA languishing second from bottom. This ad achieved the lowest score of all 11 for production, with reviewers describing it as “juvenile”, “creepy” and “very strange”. The attempt at humour failed to resonate widely, but did help the ad achieve its best rating among men aged 25-34, who ranked it ninth.

First Choice

Go Mahoosive with the All Inclusive
first-choiceFirst Choice might be the “grand masters of all-inclusive” and a “black belt in no bar bills” but its rap-themed ad left it bottom and the only one to score below 60%. Only On the Beach saved it from a clean sweep of bottom spots among all age and gender groups, although some reviewers, particularly women, loved it. However, its detractors called it “cringey”, with one slamming it as “more Honey G than Kanye West”.


How the survey was done

SoundOut, a sentiment analysis company, gauged the opinions of a representative sample of 600 people drawn from its panel of 2.5 million opted‑in consumers in the UK and US. The survey of 11 turn-of-year travel adverts was conducted between February 1-26 as they were shown on TV and online.

All reviewers were aged between 16 and 44, with results broken down into three age brackets. Reviewers were told which adverts to review and were paid for their participation. The overall percentage figure is an aggregation of ratings given for a range of factors. SoundOut says it adopts advanced statistical and manual checks to combat fraud and ensure the quality of its results.

MoreFirst Choice ad is ‘mahoosive flop’

SoundOut travel ad research [External]