Kayak Launches First Global Ad Campaign

With a large international presence and the recent launch into Canada, Kayak, the travel meta-search service, is launching its first global TV commercial.

“As we expand our capability as a company, global brand management has long been an objective,” says CMO Robert Birge. “We’ve had local sites in at least 15 countries for quite a long time, and everything was Kayak branded. The difference is [this is] a true global advertising campaign where we’re running the same ad.”

Carnival,” created and produced by Barton F. Graf 9000, features giant marching puppets, cannily allowing for voiceovers in multiple languages.

While it can be a challenge to create a single ad that will speak to cultural nuances, Kayak did multiple rounds of copy testing in multiple countries. Birge says, “One thing we found is that our proposition to consumers is very simple.” The current campaign reiterates the setup of other TV ads Kayak has run in the United States, he says, “contrasting someone who searches for travel the hard way with someone who knows to go to Kayak.com.”

The TV campaign will run on national cable stations and on some late-night network shows. For example, in the United States, Kayak frequently advertises on ESPN, A&E, TBS, and Comedy Central. Digital advertising to back up the campaign will maintain the company’s strategy of using display ads with simpler, more direct messaging to drive usage of the site. The company also plans to create some 15-second spots to run ahead of online videos.

There are country- or region-specific TV spots in the campaign as well. For example, “I Love Kayak,” to run in the U.S., France, Spain, and Italy, features an actor lip synching to a song, which will be in the language of each country. To shoot “Mental Fatigue,” produced for France, Italy, and Spain, different actors speaking the script in different languages were shot in turn on the same set.

Although this is a branding campaign designed to build awareness and purchase consideration over time, Birge says that Kayak measures its traffic on a very granular level and can measure brand lift over time as the result of this and all campaigns. It also does consumer research to check its brand presence, for example, by asking consumers to list online travel sites.

Birge believes that the online travel category is so mature that consumers don’t need to be reminded they can book online. Instead, he says, this campaign, like its predecessors, follows the theory that, “We’re interrupting you, and so we’re going to give you a reason to pay attention to us. That’s why some of our ads tend to be a bit quirky.”

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