Travel brands have been hit hard during the coronavirus pandemic. Many have either paused their campaigns, and according to analytics firm MediaRadar, travel companies overall have reduced their ad spending by about 50 percent compared to this time last year.
Hotels.com is taking a different approach. The lodging platform is replacing three of its ads that were recently running on TV with a spot more in tune with the current global crisis.
Normally, the brand's mascot Captain Obvious is out there trying to convince people to get off of their couches or social media and take a trip. But now that people have been encouraged to stay home, he too, is laying low and urging others to do the same.
In a new 15-second spot airing in the U.S. and Canada, Captain Obvious is seen rubbing on hand sanitizer before taking a kernel of popcorn from a large bowl and tossing it into his mouth. Copy then explains he is “going to be social distancing for a while,” and “you should too.”
Under the Hotels.com logo it then reads: “Just stay home.”
The spot began airing on March 23 during shows like HGTV’s “Property Brothers” and reruns of “Friends” on TBS, according to iSpot.tv.
Created through the brand’s agency of record Crispin Porter Bogusky, the ad is running on airtime originally meant for a campaign that launched in April 2019. In those three spots—“My Dream,” (featuring Lil Jon) “Another Vacation,” and “Wine Lunch,” (featuring “The Bachelor’s” NickViall), people express jealousy over seeing their friends post pictures of their trips on social media. Captain Obvious is there to tell them to book their own trips instead of “hate-liking” others.
As the hotels themselves are facing huge blows to their business, messages promoting travel seems pointless at this time.
“We didn’t feel the tone of our usual advertising was right for the current environment,” says a spokesperson for Hotels.com. “For the airtime we had remaining, we opted for a message that reinforces the guidance to stay home.”