Travelocity Gains Exposure for Gnome Mascot With Promotion

While most garden gnomes are restricted to front and back yards, travel site Travelocity’s spokesgnome, the Roaming Gnome, is featured in a campaign that is giving consumers a chance to win a trip around the world – and to follow in his footsteps.

The promotion, The Great Gnome Nabbing, asked users to submit one-minute videos on a microsite launched specifically for this campaign. Travelocity says it received more than 900 submissions in the initial entry phase from September 30 to October 20.

“Our research indicated that we needed to do a better job of telling the Roaming Gnome’s story,” says Jonathan Rogers, director of brand for Travelocity. “Consumers are familiar with our brand, they know Travelocity has a gnome as a brand icon, but they might need reminding how it’s all connected.”

Rogers also says the campaign helps refresh the notion of travelers stealing their neighbors’ gnomes, taking them on vacation, and then sending photos with a ransom note – a phenomenon he says has existed in pop culture since the mid-1980s.

To participate in The Great Gnome Nabbing, Travelocity asked U.S.-based travelers 21 years old and up to submit a video telling the Roaming Gnome why they, too, should be nabbed and taken on a trip. According to Travelocity, the grand prize features six global destinations and is valued at $65,000. The trip will take place from November 29 to December 23.

Rogers says the agenda is pre-determined and the destinations will be revealed to the winner as the trip begins as part of a secondary Guess the Destination Sweepstakes that will launch in late November. Participating airlines include Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss International Air Lines Ltd., and TAP Portugal. These airlines are in the Star Alliance, a global airline network.

Following the initial entry phase, the videos will ultimately be narrowed down to 10 finalists. Seven finalists were selected by consumer votes and three will be chosen by judges, Rogers says. Judges are managers on Travelocity’s marketing, brand, and social media teams.

The seven finalists chosen by popular vote are highlighted on the microsite as “the Current Top 7.” Travelocity would not disclose the number of votes cast for these videos.

The initial voting phase ended October 27. The initial judging phase ends November 4. The finalist voting and judging phase will take place from November 5 to November 9. The winner will be announced November 29.

The likeness of the grand prize winner will be incorporated in a Travelocity-produced television ad that will air nationally later this year. In addition, Travelocity says the winner’s adventures will be posted on the microsite as well as in Travelocity’s social media channels.

The nine finalists will receive $2,000 to use toward a vacation of their choosing.

According to Travelocity, the Roaming Gnome was nabbed from a garden in Durham, N.C. in 2004 and has been on the adventure of a lifetime ever since.

“Now, with eight years under his belt and having attained icon status in pop culture, we are taking the opportunity to remind travelers why we have a garden gnome represent our brand with The Great Gnome Nabbing,” Rogers says.

Promotion for the campaign includes: an integration on late night TV show Jimmy Kimmel Live!; activation events in New York and Dallas where consumers could submit videos; a takeover of the Yahoo home page on October 10; a branded content extension with TBS to help drive voting; and activity on Travelocity’s Twitter channels, including the hashtag #gnomenabbed.

@RoamingGnome has 26,000 followers on Twitter.

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