Expedia uses ‘authentic heroes’ in storytelling push

Expedia’s latest ad features mini documentaries that aim to portray real life, incorporating socially and culturally diverse themes in order to engage locally with “real people”.

Expedia is launching a series of “infectious” documentary-style videos as part of its latest campaign, in order to relate to real people and “shine a light” following “a negative political year”.

The campaign is spread over six videos, each featuring a true story. Two of the videos went live on Facebook and YouTube today (22 December). They will be adapted and developed according to the reaction they get on social media before their debut on TV. The ads will break on Sky, Channel 4 and ITV on Boxing Day, with the first three stories being pushed in January and the others later in Q1 next year.

Andrew Cocker, senior director of marketing at Expedia tells Marketing Week “there is nothing better” than putting videos in a live environment to see how they perform, which will directly impact what the brand puts on TV.

Expedia hopes to break advertising stereotypes by showing how different people use its service in different ways, reflecting the fact it appeals to “everyone’s needs”.

Julien, a lorry driver from Birmingham heads to the opera in Madrid, despite his passion bemusing his friends, while David Kenward a photographer who won the Down’s Syndrome Association’s My Perspective photography competition in 2015, travels to Iceland to capture the northern lights with his family. The video shows Kenward prepping his gear and working on creating the perfect shot.

“I hope the stories resonate with real people up and down the country. The ads are quite infectious and shine a light on the positive after a negative political year following Brexit and Trump.”

“The crucial part to our storytelling is our protagonists are real people with authentic voices. They were chosen for their down-to-earth appeal, and we expect our viewers will connect to these authentic heroes as they embark on their travels.”

READ MORE: The rise of ‘social realism’ in advertising

He continues: “The films have been shot in a very beautiful and cinematic way, insightful and full of humanity to complement the real-life situations. It’s like a small snapshot into the reasons why people choose to use Expedia in the first place.”

Cocker does not believe focusing on such a wide demographic is a problem in terms of reach and says if you find a product that works for yourself, your family, friends and business, you “pretty much [cover] 95% of the user cases” of why the travel product was needed in the first place.

Despite this the company believes locality is key and has included ads that are suitable to different audiences throughout Europe, as it believes different countries need to do different things to cater to each market.

“We have an almost identical view of why we exist around the world but we have a localised way of going to market in different regions. You only have to watch TV in Thailand or the US to see how different the marketing needs to be,” Cocker says.

Though Cocker admits Expedia is restricted on filming everything locally due to budget constraints, the company will be testing which stories work in different countries by “letting the data do the talking” and amending the videos and marketing as they go along, following their release on social.

The brand has learnt from the filming of each video so far and is adapting its approach to best suit each execution.

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