Expedia Launched a Print Campaign…and it Worked Like Crazy

bigbufmenThe online booking company sees a 20% bump with print ads that are big, beefy and buff….and connect with their key demographic.

For a travel booking company, getting in front of frequent flyers is a high-stakes game. And when Expedia turned to print ads in lifestyle magazines, they saw a 20% bump on sales for the year.

Their secret weapon? A cheeky and humorous ad campaign strategically positioned along relevant editorial content.

“For online travel expert Expedia, looking for short-term gains from a price-led approach was creating a dead end,” notes this case study in Magnetic Media. “It’s true that people were increasingly using Expedia as a travel search and comparison engine, but they often went on to book elsewhere on price-led promotions. So, in 2013, the company stood back from the crowd and challenged itself with finding a new way to reconnect with its core audience, particularly high-value frequent flyers.”

The brand felt that, rather than compete on price, they needed to engage customers during the inspiration and research stage of their travel planning. So they called in the designers, who got busy.

“Using the abbreviated company codes found on airport luggage tags, it tapped into consumers’ love of travel,” the article continues.

“For example, Expedia ran the ‘BIG, BUF, MEN’ treatment next to Heat’s ‘Torso of the Month’, Cosmo’s centerfold, in the G Man section of Glamour and in Attitude and Men’s Fitness health titles alongside editorial of hunky men,” the article continues. “The clever interplay between advertising and editorial enabled Expedia to stand out and positively influence brand awareness and recollection.”

Brand awareness and recall is just one of the superpowers of print ads. So, did it work?

“The tongue-in-cheek creative was hugely effective in extending Expedia’s tactical campaign in print media, and subsequently via social media pick-up, creating strong awareness among its key ABC1 audience,” the article concludes. “The campaign achieved a high following on social media and led to a 20% year on year sales uplift (12% during the magazine campaign period).”

Is advertising dead? No, only bad advertising, as Steven Perlberg noted earlier in the Wall Street Journal. The key, as proven by Expedia, is to truly understand what your key audience wants, and engage them where they are most receptive. (Like sitting in an airplane seat, planning their next trip in their head.)

Print is a proven winner at building your audience and influencing purchase; where will you make your next connection?