hospitality's First National Ads Aim To 'Flip' On Awareness

Kayak ad spot

The travel search engine is hoping to "flip" from a well-kept secret among frequent travelers to a tool used by mainstream travelers every day.

After discovering earlier this year that 68% of consumers who use online travel sites had never heard of Kayak, the company decided to focus on marketing.

This week, Kayak is launching its first national advertising campaign on TV, online and outdoors, created by its new agency of record, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco. The creative features the tagline: "Search one and done," a device that resembles the traditional destination/time flip display boards once found in train stations and airports around the world, and a new logo based on this "flippy" device.

Kayak has focused solely on product innovation for the past five years and it will continue to be the "core of our DNA," says Kayak CMO Robert Birge. "We have built a great franchise, and a number of people use our service," Birge tells Marketing Daily. "But not enough travelers who book online have even heard of us. Our new advertising aims to make more people aware of Kayak, and let them know why they should use us to search for their flight, hotel and other travel needs."



Two TV spots will run through Dec. 20. Programming includes 11 NFL games on NBC and Fox. Other media buys, on ABC, include: "Dancing with the Stars," "Castle," "Cougar Town," "Flash Forward," "Grey's Anatomy," "Extreme Home Makeover" and the "American Music Awards." On CBS, the ads will run on "Two and a Half Men," "NCIS," "The Good Wife," "Survivor," "The Mentalist" and "Cold Case." The commercials will also air on cable networks including CNN, Comedy Central, Discovery, E, ESPN, Food Network, HGTV, TBS, TNT, TLC, Travel Channel, VH1, Weather Channel, USA, Animal Planet, AMC, Bravo and MSNBC.

Digital out-of-home will run through Dec. 27 in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Boston, Washington, D.C. and Seattle. Online runs through Dec. 31 and includes a DR network buy comprising hundreds of sites, including: Accuweather, Billboard, Citysearch, Fodors, FoxSports, Fortune, ivillage, NationalGeographic, SportsIllustrated, 24/7, ABC, American Greetings, FoxNews, Reuters, Morningstar, NBCSports, Tvguide, Classmates, Facebook, Travel Ad Network, Lonely Planet, RandMcnally and Google.

Kayak's new logo, which debuted in August, was developed by Plaid, a New York creative innovation agency, and also references the flip display motif. The founder of Plaid led the initial name development project for Kayak and was the lead strategist for the agency that launched Orbitz back in 2001, where some Kayak execs previously worked.

"We asked Plaid to create a brand identity that was authentic to the idea that we're a travel search engine rather than an online travel store," according to Kayak's blog. "As they developed a strategy, they found inspiration on our site. We've always had a device we call 'flippy' that runs while a search is underway. 'Flippy' borrows from train station schedule boards as a way to demonstrate that we let you compare hundreds of travel sites with one search. So Plaid created a new logo based on that idea and gave us a bunch of design ideas including a new design for the 'flippy' device on our site." In the TV ads, "flippy" is the center of it all -- always there, searching through hundreds of travel sites.

The company ran a local TV campaign in 2006 themed "Life's a trip," which was created by New York-based The Brooklyn Brothers, but this is the brand's first national effort.

The Web site enables consumers to compare hundreds of travel sites at once for flights, hotels, car rental and complete vacations. It also supports travel search applications for mobile devices. The company has local sites in the U.S., UK, France, Germany, Italy, India, Spain, and several other countries, and also operates travel search site SideStep and hotel reviews and information site TravelPost.

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