Hotwire Launches $40 Million Feel-Good Branding Campaign

Hotwire will launch a nationwide branding campaign earmarked at $40 million for the year. Spots begin airing Monday on more than 30 cable networks. The campaign begins with several television spots and moves into mobile, social and other digital media.

Academy Award-winning documentarian Errol Morris directed one of two television campaigns. The overall message and feeling focuses on managing the experience.

Los Angeles-based Tiny Rebellion, the campaign's creator, said the spots focus on consumers thinking with their emotional right brain when booking hotel rooms, rather than the analytical side. "We want you to lean in to opacity based on the idea you're getting this incredible deal after you book a room," said Tiny Rebellion CEO Lucas Donat. "It's about celebrating the feeling of joy and happiness when getting a good deal."

The campaigns, inspired by hundreds of real travelers' feedback, have their own distinct narrative to illustrate how any traveler, seasoned Hotwire customers and new users alike, can reap the benefits of discounted travel through the site. The first campaign, "How it feels to Hotwire," showcases the emotional benefits of booking a hotel room on Hotwire, with in-the-moment consumer reactions when they realize the incredible deal received at the time of booking.

The second campaign, "Hotwire 180," hits on the more functional benefit of using the site for travel. Morris interviews real travelers who hesitate to book blindly and converts them to Hotwire believers once they learn they can save up to 60% on a four-star hotel, even at the last minute.

The infectious good feeling in the 30-second spot -- "How it feels to Hotwire" -- shows several people apparently scoring big savings when they book online through the site on their computers or smartphones.

Hotwire President Henrik Kjellberg said the company manages to get the good deals partly based on not revealing the brand's name at the time of the booking. "We're able to give consumers a better deal because we don't reveal the brand name," he said. "If you're a high-end shoe manufacturer selling through Neiman Marcus, there's a limit to what price the store can sell the shoes."

Discounting too much would destroy the pricing structure of the high-end brand, Kjellberg said. Similarly, hotels don't want to give too much of a discount because it destroys the brand value. It's different for an outlet mall like Citadel or online site like Hotwire that doesn't impact the brand's value.

Kjellberg said more than 70% of consumers booking their Hotwire's mobile apps book for the same day.

Along with the brand rollout, Hotwire re-designed its Web site and suite of mobile apps for iOS and Android, and launched a new logo and the new "Hotels. Deals. Happiness" tagline.

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