Silver Agency of the Year: J. Walter Thompson Canada
Hotels.com was drowning in a sea of other online travel booking brands. Not only did it not stand out, but Canadians did not see it as a brand that understood their particular travel needs. Agency JWT needed to find a way for Hotels.com to connect with consumers in the Great White North in a way that could increase the brand’s relevance.
Canadian winters can be tough. And while Canadians are a hardy bunch, as the winter months wear on (and on), most eventually get tired, frustrated and down-right pissed off with all the shoveling, car scraping, slipping and frostbitten body parts.
A sentiment analysis of conversations taking place in Canada through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram during the winter months confirmed that Canadians like to vent their winter frustrations online (after all, to be Canadian is to complain about the weather), often in a graphic, expletive-laced way. That’s where the opportunity began.
The brand believed that if it could find a way to make the final few cold and desolate months of winter a bit more bearable, it could let Canadians know it was a brand that understood them and wanted to help. Beyond the bus stops, elevators and underground paths to work, social media was where the weather conversation was happening. It was also one of the most powerful, and cost-effective channels for for the brand to leverage as a tool to engage and insert itself into that conversation.
The team decided to create the ‘Hotels.com #WinterSwearJar,’ which would reward winter-weary Canadians for vocalizing their f&^%ing frustration with winter in a colourful way.
Every time somebody tweeted about their winter frustration using a swear word, the brand dropped a quarter in its swear jar and gave them a chance to enter a contest to win a $1,000 Hotels.com gift card.
Using its Winter Swear Jar microsite as its hub, the brand responded directly to every Canadian who swore about winter with a personalized message and an invitation to enter its contest. Using the iconic Captain Obvious and its unique tone and manner, the brand found a way to break through the social media clutter and create a personal one-to-one connection with those in serious need of the brand’s services. Once they got to the site, a quarter was dropped into the virtual swear jar on their behalf and they could see their tweet in real-time. Every time the jar reached $1,000, the brand would give one of its freezing-cold Canadians a $1,000 Hotels.com giftcard so they could book a trip somewhere warm where they’d have nothing to swear about.
The program was designed to build awareness of Hotels.com among Canadians, particularly focusing on a younger traveler segment, and to drive engagement. The team developed a lean and strategic messaging plan focused on location and weather-targeted video through YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.