Campaign - Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express “We’re There” Campaign
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This year, Holiday Inn® and Holiday Inn Express® united to launch their largest campaign in over a decade, built on the power of human connections.
With over 3,800 hotels around the world and millions of guests every year – the Holiday Inn® and Holiday Inn Express® brands together make up the largest hotel brand in the world.
The Holiday Inn brand’s emotional bond with audiences is what has made it iconic. In its heyday, the brand was a category creator, leader and innovator. Now, in 2019, we have identified a unique opportunity to reinvigorate the brand’s heritage built in 1952 on a simple, core emotional need of its founder: Kemmons Wilson, a father who just wanted to make it easier to take his kids on vacation.
As a central part of our ambitious plans to double the IHG rate of growth by 2020, we looked to reinvent the Holiday Inn brand family, the primary revenue driver in the IHG portfolio. Uniting Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express around a pure, emotion-focused purpose would create a halo effect, engaging a new generation of travelers while also driving differentiation between the brands. We made our biggest brand marketing investment in a decade to bring this co-branded campaign to life.
We started by asking ourselves, “why do people travel?” and found that people tend to take two types of trips: ‘Place Trips’ are focused on visiting a destination, while ‘People Trips’ are centered around visiting the people that matter. ‘Place Trips’ happen less often, require more travel, and offer an escape; while ‘People Trips’ occur more frequently, require less travel, and are grounded in reality.
In 1952, when Kemmons Wilson first opened Holiday Inn, he created a place where people could come together, feel welcomed and at ease. It wasn’t the destination or place that mattered so much as the connections that formed between families, friends and colleagues who traveled to see each other. Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express were founded with these ‘People Trips’ at the heart of their DNA and continue to be a place where people could have moments of human connections. In modern life when we’re time- and budget-crunched, it’s tempting to rely solely on technology to communicate or to chase an Instagrammable moment instead of a less tangible human connection. However, when studies show that the majority of communication is done non-verbally, an in-person request is 34 times more successful than one communicated over email, and meaningful social connections drastically increase lifespan, we need to remind people that being there in person really matters.
The campaign platform, “We’re there, so you can be too” highlights that Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express facilitate the ‘People Trips’ that allow for real, human connections. A message centered around ‘People Trips’ differentiates the campaign from competitors by focusing on people rather than the hotel or travel itself as the customer pay-off.
Over the course of just six months, we developed and tested the campaign platform and manifesto, produced the creative for launch, and pre-tested the launch films. The copy testing for the two launch films showed high persuasion, affinity, differentiation, credibility and brand appeal.
We launched in the US with two the co-branded films in June 2019, ‘Laughter’ and ‘Connections’ which illustrate the emotional bonds that are only made when you’re there in person. ‘Laughter’ highlights the moments of joy people experience when they’re with others; ‘Connections’ focuses on the emotional impact of the small physical connections you only have when you come together. The co-branded films are designed to unite the brand around a strong emotional core, a halo effect that elevates consumer perceptions of them both.
The films were created almost entirely dialogue-free, which not only provides an arresting and differentiated creative output from competitors, but allows for an adaptable suite of global assets that can flex to meet more targeted needs. The media buy included broadcast, cinema, online video, radio, digital display and social placements.
Once this core had been established, individual brand films and communications were created under the “We’re There” platform to demonstrate the unique features of each brand, while still conveying the message that Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express help to facilitate people trips. The global campaign has been adapted to be regionally relevant and has so far launched in the Americas in June and UK in August, and Greater China in Q4 2019.
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