Thomas Cook brings back ‘Don’t just book it, Thomas Cook it’ strapline, again

The new campaign will also see the tour operator move into native TV content for the first time as it looks to better communicate what makes it different.

Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook is bringing back its ‘Don’t just book it, Thomas Cook it’ strapline as part of a new campaign that will see the tour operator move into native TV content for the first time.

The campaign, created by agency KBS Albion and which launches tomorrow (23 December), features two TV ads filmed at its resorts. The first is a family-focused spot, called ‘The Man’, which shows a young girl strutting around the pool in a crazy outfit and without a care in the world. 

The second ad, entitled ‘The Chase’, follows a game of kiss chase to show how a holiday allows people to fall in love all over again just like when they were teenagers.

The TV ads will be supported by  social, digital and in store activity that will run throughout next year.

The campaign brings back the well-known ‘Don’t just book it, Thomas Cook it’ strapline. The slogan was originally created in 1984 and was used in the company’s marketing until 1993, when it was dropped. It was then brought back in 2008 before being dropped once again five years later.

Back in 2013, Thomas Cook told Marketing Week that the slogan was canned because it did not match the direction the brand wanted to go in. But, speaking to Marketing Week, Chris Chalmers, marketing and ecommerce director at Thomas Cook UK, says it remains a powerful asset for the brand in the UK, hence the “conscious and considered” decision to bring it back.

“It’s a really powerful asset in terms of reminding people that we’re a much loved British travel brand. We asked customers across a range of lines which was the best articulation of what we’re trying to achieve – and that slogan was the number one response. It’s still very well recognised, there’s a lot of warmth towards it,” he adds.

Moving into native TV

This campaign also marks Thomas Cook’s first move into native television content. The tour operator originally intended to put together a digital mini-series for Channel 4’s digital All 4 platform, and flew out the young cast of The Secret Life of Five Year Olds to one of its resorts for a week-long holiday.

It’s very hard to communicate a very long message in a TV ad. We have great likeability and levels of awareness towards the brand, but you can only do so much within a TV ad.

Chris Chalmers, Thomas Cook

Due to the quality of the footage, the broadcaster consequently decided to commission an episode, which is set to air on 28 December. Thomas Cook’s family-focused ad will air around the programme, while the second spot will debut during the commercial break of Coronation Street on Christmas Day.

Chalmers is keen to do more of this type of content – despite describing it as “a bit cliché”.

“It’s very hard to communicate a very long message in a TV ad. We have great likeability and levels of awareness towards the brand, but you can only do so much within a TV ad. Putting the emphasis on content is a bit cliché, but it’s incredibly important [for us],” he explains.

“We don’t want content for content’s sake, it has to have a purpose. It didn’t feel like the brand had to force its way into the programme’s content, which would potentially not have worked. As part of [the partnership], we hope it gets across the warmth we’re trying to create around the brand and that the resort is a great showcase of our family proposition.”

Adding personalisation into the mix

The tourism industry has not had the easiest year and Thomas Cook is not immune. It recently decided to close 50 of its high street stores, affecting 400 staff, as more people book online. Meanwhile, profits from its UK business have been hit by rising costs, in part due to the weakness of the pound against the euro following the Brexit vote.

Yet Chalmers remains optimistic. He agrees there is still some “unpacking” to do when it comes to convincing consumers of the benefits of booking a package holiday, which is why Thomas Cook has focused on innovation to attract more customers to the brand. For example, it has added new destinations to its roster and has personalisation features such as allowing customers to pick their own room.

“Innovation doesn’t necessarily mean significant cost, these things we have are great initiatives, but not necessarily high-cost initiatives. We intend to continue to move with consumer demand. It’s really important to offer more than a simple package of what might have been considered as old [fashioned],” he concludes.

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