Seen Any Good Promotions Lately?

The tie-in between movies and travel is longstanding. Guidebooks offering help on visiting destinations are popular, as are tours around, say, the locations in “Field of Dreams.” But in an era of social media, the tie-ins and marketing potential increase exponentially.

Witness a recent alliance between Expedia Media Solutions and DreamWorks around an animated feature called “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” about a mischievous wandering boy (Sherman) and a dog (Mr. Peabody) who tries to keep him on the straight and narrow. They use a Wayback machine to travel not only to different places but to differ periods in time. Cool. 

This is the first time Expedia Media Solutions has partnered with a movie, possible the first time a travel site has promoted a film in this way – and there may be more to come. As Noah Tratt, global VP for Expedia Media Solutions says, “We’re selling travel, not Band-Aids or bottled water so we’re looking for emotional ties and what could be more exciting than a Wayback machine.”

The campaign not only sold tickets for the movie but brought consumers to the Expedia page. A destination theme store featured merchandising deals for the destinations and drove users to a custom “Mr. Peabody & Sherman”-themed landing page and destination store on the Expedia site. Extra benefits accrued to the hotels featured on the merchandising page – with bookings available via links from the special offers on Expedia’s site. 

Campaign elements spanned Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the Expedia Viewfinder blog. An Expedia Viewfinder “blog carnival” featured online content from more than 10 bloggers; and there was a Twitter chat on “Where in history would you travel to?” Within 15 minutes, it was trending on Twitter in the U.S.

The centerpiece was a sweepstakes campaign aimed at driving awareness and ticket sales. The grand prize was a trip to Greece, Italy or France – all visited by Mr. Peabody. First prize is a screening of the movie in the winner’s hometown for the winner and 100 friends and relatives. The sweepstakes launched in late February, and near the end of the campaign had delivered more than 16.5 million impressions from the Twitter chat alone, garnered a click-through-rate of .67% and generated 125,000 accumulated views on Google+; the sweepstakes exceeded 186.000 entries by the time it ended.

Tratt says campaigns like this are reflective of the “test and learn environment” Expedia encourages. He adds, “We would love to think about all these different channels we have to reach the consumer and how we can tap into them.”

An animated feature staring a dog who travels might not seem the most obvious place to promote travel for real people. But Expedia’s experience demonstrates that in a very crowded environment, it’s incumbent upon marketers to look where others aren’t.

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