Thomson aims for stronger branding in new campaign

Thomson’s new autumn campaign will focus on the “emotive brand story” behind the holiday company’s TUI smile logo.

Thomson, owned by TUI, will introduce a bear mascot called Miles in its autumn marketing campaign. The bear is on the hunt for his missing smile and his happiness is restored by a trip on Thomson Dreamliner 787 to the Sensatori Jamaica resort.

The ad introduces the new call to action “Discover Your Smile” and is soundtracked by actor William Shatner’s version of the Queen song Bohemian Rhapsody.

Marketing director Jeremy Ellis told Marketing Week the strategy behind the campaign “is to raise the profile of the TUI smile … it’s not that well-known here in the UK, it’s not famous or recognised that well as a ‘smile’”.

The 60 second ad launches on TV during The X Factor on Saturday (20 September) and is in cinemas from Friday. A 30 second version will be broadcast throughout September and October before returning to screens at Christmas.

Ellis explains that the campaign builds on the previous work of its Kid (2012) and Simon The Ogre (2013) TV advertising that positioned Thomson to own the story of the transforming power of a holiday.

He says: “We want to become famous for that story but with a larger degree of branding in it – now the branding really comes out well.”

The TV ad will run in September and October and then return at Christmas. Ellis says that now is a good time to start pushing for early bookings as people are still talking about their recent holidays and adds that kicking off a campaign now also seeds brand equity for the big push over the festive period.

Thomson has produced a fully integrated campaign, created by BMB, that includes an interactive online zone discoveryoursmile.co.uk and creates a sense of occasion about the new ad, with a 90 second “director’s cut” and bespoke content, including a campaign hashtag #mademesmile.

There will be also be outdoor, print and online activity and there are plans to use Miles across the company’s platforms and collateral over the year. The Miles bear mascot will also be available to buy with proceeds going to the Family Holiday Association.

Commenting on the interactive aspects of the campaign Ellis says: “We want to build an on-going relationship and conversation about our differentiated products. The other big advantage {of digital interactivity} is that we can bring holidays to life with richer content. One of the challenges we have as a sector is traditionally we are quite commoditised and we don’t experience them very often.”

Thomson has pursued a strategy of offering exclusive hotel properties and introduced the Dreamliner 787 aircraft to its fleet in 2012. This year it has expanded its premium Sensatori holiday offering.

TUI Travel, which also owns the First Choice brand, outperformed the market in its third quarter results for the period to 30 June. Revenue dropped 2 per cent but underlying operating profit rose 47 per cent to £112m.

Rival tour operator Thomas Cook introduced its “sunny heart” logo earlier this year across all territories to drive a unified brand strategy alongside the strapline “Let’s Go”.

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