}

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Commercials that travel well



The ad above is for House of Travel, which bills itself as “New Zealand’s biggest locally owned and operated travel company.” In this era of Internet travel arranging, this may sound like a quaint, sort or retro kind of thing, but there’s clearly still a need for such services, which is what their television ads are attempting to tap into. For a variety of reasons, these ads all work, even the one that’s annoying.

These ads are part of a series of ads under the theme, “Let’s make holidays better, together”, and all say they’re based on true stories, and all the versions here are the longer versions of the ads.

The ad up top is my favourite of the three, and was actually the second in the series of ads, posted the beginning of March. The main reason is the actor who plays the wife. In her consultation with House of Travel’s “Lucy”, she says her lifelong dream is “silly, really”, and it’s not hard to believe a person might really say that, resigned to never fulfilling that dream, at least, not really. At the end of the ad she wordlessly depicts what to me looks like happiness, wonder, and even sheer joy. It’s very well done.

This ad tries to convey caring, a commitment to the customer, and willingness to go farther than expected, as shown in the ad next ad (third in the series), which they posted at the end of March:



The main point of this ad is that the company will go beyond the call of duty for their customers, and that they’re essentially friends. People really do forget their passport, and even though I’d be unlikely to do so (I compulsively check constantly to make sure I know where it is before we ever leave the house, and then again on the way to the airport), I can imagine this sort of thing happening. This ad seems to have been intended to be humorous, as the first ad in the series (below) was, but I would have liked the couple to be a bit more desperate to be more believable. Even so, it’s an okay ad.

The first ad in the series, posted in February, was also supposed to be humorous, but I find it annoying, for probably obvious reasons:


What I do think is funny about the ad is that many people really do think that travel agencies aren’t needed any more. It’s that guy that annoys me. Of course—he’s clearly meant to.

The story arc of the three ads has a narrative beyond the theme of the campaign. The first ad aired, the scene with the guy in the bar, establishes that travel agents still exist, and that they can save customers money over what they would have spent on their own, using the Internet. The second ad establishes that travel agents will go beyond the call of duty, and suggests they’re our friends, and the third ad suggests they care about us, not just our business. So, they save us money, look after us, and even help fulfill dreams. That’s a lot of work for some three minutes of television advertising to accomplish.

I think this TV ad campaign works precisely because it makes travel agents human, but it does so in such a good natured way, with a healthy dose of humour. It means we can get the message without feeling lectured. Of course, it helps that “Lucy” is so darn likeable, too.

As I often say, to be effective TV advertising has to capture people’s attention, first, then it has to stick in the mind somehow, and there are a lot of ways to do both. Story, music, imagery, the acting—all those are the sorts of things that make ads work and be memorable, and it why these ads work.

There’s one more critical piece to make TV ads effective: We mustn’t start to get annoyed when the ad comes on again. I’ve included the ads in order (top to bottom), from my favourite to my least favourite. I’m not tired of the top ad yet, a little tired of the middle ad, and the last one is starting to annoy me. Of course, this is entirely subjective, and other people may have completely different reactions. These are merely mine.

I may not personally have used a travel agent for decades, but it’s kind of nice to know that they’re still there, if for no other reason than that we might need them. This ad series shows my why I might need them, so, for me, the ads worked.

But I do especially like the woman’s reaction at the end of the ad at the top of this post.

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