Thomson has reverted to a strategy of kicking-off peak season TV marketing campaigns months early in a move observers predicted would see it steal a march on rivals.
The Tui brand’s latest campaign will debut this Saturday during The X-Factor, introducing viewers to Miles, a teddy bear with one eye and the ‘Thomson smile’.
The ‘Discover Your Smile’ advert, with a soundtrack of William Shatner’s version of Bohemian Rhapsody, will run until the end of October and return before Christmas.
It follows on from last year’s ‘Simon the Ogre’ campaign, which debuted on December 27, a more traditional time for travel firms to target the early-booking market.
In 2012, Thomson went out in September with its ‘Holidays Just Got Better’ adverts, as it did in 2011 with its ‘Quality Time’ campaign.
Thomson joins rivals such as Expedia, Booking.com and BA Holidays in running TV marketing campaigns this month.
Steve Dunne, executive chairman of the Brighter Group, said Thomson still lagged Thomas Cook in terms of brand recognition, adding: “If they want to get this smile motif etched into the heart of the consumer, it’s better to do brand-building when the market isn’t too crowded.
“This is going to wrong-foot the opposition – there is always first-mover advantage in marketing.”
Former Cimtig chairman Gary Grieve, founder of Capela Training, said: “Thomson is in unchartered territory with nothing to measure themselves against because no one is quite in the same league.
“But consolidating market share is tricky when you are leader by a long way.”
Trevor Beattie, founding partner of Tui’s ad agency BMB, said Miles the Bear “is going to be a star”, adding: “One-eyed and raggedy he may be, but he’s out to steal your heart.”
Jeremy Ellis, Marketing & Digital Director at Thomson, said: “Our new customer promise ‘Discover Your Smile’ emotively sums up what the Thomson brand stands for across everything we do, and is perfectly reflected in our iconic smile logo.
“We believe that a great experience can bring back the very best version of you, which is ultimately what people want from a holiday.
“The story of Miles the Bear really brings that sentiment to life, powerfully introducing Discover Your Smile and raising the profile of our very own smile.
“Our exclusive concept hotels like Sensatori, Couples and Family Resorts, state-of-the-art 787 Dreamliners and years of expertise and friendly service provide genuine reasons to believe and demonstrate that Thomson really is the brand to help customers discover their smiles.”
The new campaign also features outdoor, print, online advertising, video on demand, email marketing, social media and PR.
A fully interactive experience zone has been created to bring to life the campaign online at discoveryoursmile.co.uk.
It will feature the new ads, 90 second Director’s cut and ‘behind the scenes’ films as well as bespoke smile and destination content and content generated through the campaign hashtag #mademesmile.
Funds for the Family Holiday Association will be raised from sales of Miles the Bear cuddly toys in Thomson stores from November.
Sourced from Travel Weekly