New Expedia.com Ads Debut in Advance of Orbitz Launch

Expedia.com Thursday launched a new ad campaign designed to continue its positioning as travelers’ trusted advisor, amid increasing competition from other dot-com travel sites and airline industry initiatives.

The Los Angeles office of Deutsch, which won the account in September 1999 from McCann Erickson, created two new television ads for the effort. In the January following the acount win, the agency debuted a TV, print and outdoor campaign positioning Expedia as the antidote to hectic and uncertain travel planning.

That concept takes a back seat in new effort, which includes a pair of television spots focusing instead on the ease of planning travel using Expedia’s service. Like previous TV executions, the new spots aim for the funny bone.

“Business Trip” features a woman reconfiguring her trip to avoid having to sit next to an obnoxious colleague, while “House Party” shows a couple deciding against leaving their teenage son at home during a vacation: the husband uses Expedia to change their travel reservations for two persons to three.

“Use of the flash-forward comedic sequencing really brings home the point that as fast as the consumer can think of travel variables, Expedia can provide the options and solutions,” said Eric Hirshberg, executive creative director at Deutsch. “These spots demonstrate the breadth and depth of Expedia’s travel tools and how easy they are to use to plan and book your trip.”

Follow-up radio, magazine and print ads will follow on the same theme, Deutsch said.

The new campaign comes as the online travel industry is gearing up to meet Orbitz, the site created by major U.S. airlines. Critics of Orbitz allege that the site represents collusion and a potential way to undercut other Web competitors, including Expedia and competitor Travelocity (since a majority of the other sites’ business comes from selling seats on the same airlines running Orbitz).

Spokespeople for the company, which is slated to go live in September, have routinely dismissed concerns about anticompetitive practices. At any rate, Orbitz will launch with a bang — a multi-million dollar ad campaign out of TBWA/Chiat/Day’s New York office.

Expedia said the new campaign came less out of an effort to grab market share before Orbitz debuts, but rather in response to consumer feedback from new features. According to Erik Blachford, Expedia’s senior vice president for marketing and programming, services like a recently debuted search engine for best prices and travel times are making users’ travel planning easier.

“The response from consumers to this increase in choices and control has been tremendous,” he said. “We’re thrilled that Deutsch has been able to develop such a creative and compelling campaign around the central role that Expedia plays in simplifying the travel planning process.”

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