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Tricks of the marketing trade

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

Integrated and interactive travel ads: six of the best

With so many channels available to modern marketers, it’s important for brands to maintain a consistent message across the various channels that they utilise. Integrated advertising campaigns can help brands to forge stronger connections with consumers, boost brand recognition and increase sales.

In addition to integrated campaigns, many brands are already experimenting with interactive video and some have enjoyed notable successes. The pull of video footage is accentuated by interactive units, which allow curious consumers to react to media by hovering over, clicking on or otherwise engaging with elements. These features can be anything from videos to polls, website links, or galleries.

Travel brands have, arguably, an easier job than most when it comes to advertising. People don’t need an excuse to dream about going on holiday! That’s why we should really sit up and take notice when a travel brand goes above and beyond with their marketing. Whether they use clever product placement, genuine social engagement or a standout message, it deserves credit where credit is due.

I recently looked through 84 different travel ads from recent years. Here are my top six picks of interactive integrated campaigns, which I hope will provide you with some inspiration on how to approach digital differently in 2016.

Expedia: Santa Flies Coach

This Expedia campaign is an excellent example of how advertising can change the world for the better. Viewers are reminded of the true spirit of Christmas with a genuine and meaningful ad that may also have them reaching for the hankies.

In the video, Santa flies around the globe to bring presents to some very special kids, travelling some 19,602 miles over seven days. Over 49.7 hours of flight time, he travels from the North Pole to Memphis via Alaska, Hawaii, Japan, Dubai, France, and Ireland. When he arrives in America, he hands out gifts to kids at a children’s research hospital. At the conclusion, the selling point is that Santa donates all the points he earns on his huge journey to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Finally, the viewer is invited to share their reward points too.

Vic Walia, senior director of brand marketing at Expedia, said, “Santa flies around the world every year for children, so we loved the connection of giving him travel points to donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.”

Expedia also gave their customers the opportunity to donate their Expedia+ rewards points to St. Jude’s, to get into the spirit of Christmas giving. What an amazingly integrated campaign: timely, thought-provoking and socially aware.

Hotels.com: Captain Obvious

Hotels.com’s simple and functional campaign offers classic comedy with a twist. I love how it smoothly takes you to other adverts from the Captain Obvious campaign, and also lets you click through to their site. Why just hope people will visit your site, when you can clearly guide them on the intended journey?

First Choice – Life’s too short to say no

I love the interactive element in First Choice’s video, which is not available on Youtube. Check it out here. Keep an eye out for the ice cream van to find out what I mean. Like the “hero” of the advert, the viewer can turn their dream into a reality.

This advert follows a lady who is ready to begin pursuing her holiday hopes. She sets off on a magical journey when she chases after the “Heart’s Desire” ice cream van. The fantastic, dreamy quality develops as she dives into a lake only to emerge in a tropical holiday paradise.

I’m also awarding plus points for the classic rock soundtrack by The Who!

Silja Line: Project Rediscovery

Silja Line’s Project Rediscovery campaign is a clever way to help Finns and Swedes rediscover the Baltic Sea. It’s a sad fact that we often overlook natural beauty that is right under our noses.

In order to help Finns and Swedes rediscover the magic of the Baltic, Silja Line sent three photographers from Argentina, Japan and the USA on a maiden cruise to experience the Nordic beauty of the sea for the first time. The tagline “see with new eyes” sums up the goal of the project.

The campaign was then augmented by a 4-week photo sharing competition, where amateur snappers could share their cruise photos in order to win a holiday. I love how this idea combines social sharing, prize giveaways, and customer participation: it’s a really well integrated campaign.

Turkish Airlines: Invest On Board

In this campaign, Turkish Airlines gives entrepreneurs the chance to reach investors in the sky. Literally! Invest On Board is a worldwide program that lets start-ups and entrepreneurs showcase ideas for business executives during their flights.

Potential investors are introduced to opportunities during their journey, while smartphone use is not permitted. It’s a modern and efficient idea: in the advert, the executive is highly focused on the pitch, as there are very few distractions to take his attention.

Additionally, the traditional selling points of quality standards are also subtly introduced in the advert. The cabin appears plush, the food served looks of the highest quality, and the staff are well presented and courteous.

The campaign pulls innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and contemporary Turkish executive travel to provide a distinct, unconventional and modern message.

Scandinavian Airlines: SAS - Up For Grabs

To promote a million seat fare sale, Scandinavian Airlines ran a competition on Facebook where SAS fans could win a free trip to Paris, New York, or London. SAS posted details of the campaign to the 60,000 followers of their Facebook page. Users were asked to change their Facebook profile picture into a custom-made “SAS Up For Grabs” image and then simply post a matching image of them “grabbing” for their profile picture on the wall of the SAS Facebook page. The most creative images had the highest chance of winning the trip.

Everything that’s inherently social should be integrated with social networks. I think the SAS campaign was a highly effective example of how to use customer engagement and creativity to increase brand awareness.

Farooq Bhatti is a local search specialist at Caliber Interactive. You can follow him on Twitter.