Travelocity, the online travel agency that Expedia bought for $280 million in 2015, has chosen Havas and Proof Advertising as their media and creative agencies, respectively, following a review that kicked off sometime around April.
Austin, Texas-based independent retailer Proof will take on all creative and strategic tasks for the brand after beating four “huge agencies” in the final round of the field, including the incumbent Interpublic Group of Cos.” Campbell Ewald, according to Laura Molnar, head of brand marketing at Expedia. She told Ad Age that all media responsibilities have been transferred to Havas, which is also the AOR for Travelocity sister company Orbitz.
A Havas spokeswoman said Travelocity will be operated by Havas-owned Arena Media Agency in Chicago.
Campbell Ewald, who did not respond to a request for comment, was given lead creative duties in 2015, ending Travelocity’s partnership with McKinney, the agency that created the brand’s familiar roaming gnome mascot in 2003.
Assembly was handed Travelocity’s media account in 2015, but Molnar said the company consolidated all of its advertising duties with Campbell Ewald sometime last year.
“Campbell Ewald has been a fantastic partner,” said Molnar. “But the brand is going to take a risk in the coming year and we wanted a partner who could take a fresh look at the category and bring really unique ads.”
That risk, she said, will be a new product that Travelocity expects to debut in a Proof campaign in March 2020. Molnar declined to provide further details about the product. The campaign is expected to be TV, digital, social and experiential.
“Travelocity started out with the entire online travel agency category, but found itself struggling with a category of ‘me too’ brands,” added Proof CEO Bryan Christian. “The brand has great things in the works from a product offering perspective, and we are eager to put our strategic and creative talents to work helping them take full advantage of their new direction and once again stand out from the rest. stabbing.”
Molnar said Proof officially launched the account on July 1, and Havas will take over media duties on September 1. At that point, the brand will no longer work with Campbell Ewald.
“Our brand voice is friendly and authentic and so are all the people who work here,” said Molnar, explaining what drew Travelocity to Proof in particular. “We wanted to have an agency that had that in the blood too. And when you went there, you saw people being happy. That was proof by far.”
She said it helped that Travelocity’s Dallas headquarters are close to Proof’s base in Austin.
According to Kantar Media estimates, Travelocity spent $43 million on metered media in the US in 2018, compared to $125 million in 2017.
Molnar did not confirm those figures, but did say the brand has cut its budget. “That’s a fact,” she said, “we’re expected to do more with less.”
Probably the most recognizable ad to come from Campbell Ewald was Travelocity’s “Wander Wisely” tagline. That campaign kicked off in 2016, a year after the agency was hired, and focused on the unique destinations travelers can go to, with the leprechaun offering wise words: “Be your own guide.”
Molnar added that the gnome isn’t going anywhere.