The guy in Trivago India's 'creepy' ad: 'My memes help in the ad push of Trivago which is great'

The 'creepy guy' of Trivago India ad aka the country manager : 'My memes help in ad push of Trivago which is great'

Hotel search engine Trivago, after making headlines in both the UK and US with its unconventional choice of actors in ads, has now extended the campaign in India.

Much like the UK and US, the ads were parodied on social media, creating a huge amount of noise for the brand. The key difference with the India campaign is that the actor isn't actually an actor, or 'creepy' as some social media users (or trolls) labeled the ads globally, as it is the country manager Abhinav Kumar.

The Drum spoke with Kumar as to how he ended up the face fo the ads. He says: "I have been working as the country developer for the Indian market at Trivago for over five years now. Last year, we were casting for an actor for our ads and after initially struggling to find someone, the head of brand marketing suggested that I give it a go."

"He pointed out that the reason why I would be a good fit is because I speak many languages, know the business well and have positive character traits that reflect our brand values. Although I was initially reluctant, I agreed to give it a try because we are a data-driven and test-proven company so I knew that the numbers would speak for themselves. After testing it and seeing that it had potential, we decided to go for it."

Memes and gifs of Abhinav as the "Trivago guy" are being shared across social media. Earlier, Gabrielle Miller, the unforgettable face of Trivago’s latest ad push, took to London to deface the ads that made her famous (or infamous).

As to whether that helps the brand, he says: "Memes are a very interesting way to interact with our audience through user created content, I recognized and appreciated the effort that was put into creating them. I believe that the best way to respond to them is with humor, even if there are memes created only with the intention to troll."

"I post, share or retweet the ones that catch my attention the most and interact with many people online, as well as on pages dedicated to memes. Everything happened very organically for me, I think a lot of people are surprised to find out how approachable I am at the end of the day and this is why the conversation has been ongoing."

Digital travel sales in India are set to touch the $22.52bn mark by the end of 2017, according to eMarketer. As to how Trivago plans to stay ahead of competitors like Airbnb and MakeMyTrip, he says: "We don't focus on competitors but rather on ourselves and how we can continuously do things better than we have done before.

"We are focused on reshaping the way travelers search for and compare hotels, while enabling hotel advertisers to grow their businesses by providing access to a broad audience of travelers via our websites and apps. Our platform allows travelers to make informed decisions by personalizing their hotel search and providing access to a deep supply of hotel information and prices."

Trivago acquired a Hamburg-based machine learning travel start-up earlier this year to enhance its product with personalization technology. Trivago further aims to create a level playing field in the marketplace by integrating HomeAway inventory in to key markets with the plan of rolling out more inventory in 2018.

As to what is Trivago's marketing strategy in India, he says: "All our marketing strategies, both online and off, they have been built-up over time and are always changing. Trivago is a very learning-based, data-driven company, so our strategy has always been to learn, adapt and optimize - regardless of the channel."

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Taruka Srivastav

I march to the Indian beat of The Drum.

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