The ad campaign features user-generated images of holidaymakers enjoying the activities, sights and sounds Thomas Cook holidays offer. It launched in Germany this week and will launch across the rest of Europe, including the Nordic region (see images above) and the UK this month and next.
Ads will be adapted to reflect local nuances and advertising rules but will essentially run with the same theme – real people having real holiday experiences presented in a way beloved of holidaymakers in 2014: video and camera selfies.
Remo Masala, group chief marketing officer, told Marketing Week that the use of user-generated content is an attempt to get to the “eye-level” of customers by not presenting an unattainable ideal of the perfect holiday.
“It [the ad campaign] is unusual in travel communications. In the last few years we have realised there is more of a need for authenticity. We as a company and all the travel companies communicate totally differently to real people. Everyday you can see lots of uploads of travel pictures and this brings with it challenges for travel companies. This is why we have said that we need to come back into a position where we talk at an eye level to a customer where they don’t have to decode the fiction of a Hollywood movie.
“We offer them a stage to communicate to their peers. There’s no styling. We just cut real scenes, happy situations in the destinations of normal people. “
The decision to unify creative strategy across its tour operator sub brands- Spies, Ving and Tjäreborg in Scandinavia, for example and Thomas Cook in Germany and the UK – followed a survey of 18,000 customers that Masala claims found that expectations of holidays were broadly the same across Europe. It also a move that reflects the group’s desire to move away from operating in geographical silos and find a more cost-efficient way of operating.
Masala adds: “There can be a difference [between European holidaymakers] but the travel needs are the same. Our concept hotel brands operate in 8 different markets and they have the same ads so why shouldn’t it work for a tour operator…..Of course you create lots of efficiencies by doing this. Also, you can do new things that one country couldn’t afford by putting your money together.”
The move is the latest in a series of attempts by Thomas Cook to unify its marketing communications and improve the effectiveness of its spend. Masala, who was brought in as Thomas Cook’s first group-wide chief marketing officer in January, has a remit that includes alignment of brand governance as well as exploring ways to get more from its budget. Before the launch of this campaign, the most visible illustration of the move to a group strategy was the introduction of the sunny heart across all of its brand logos last year.