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People who are green with envy don't have to be #TravelHaters

It started with a douchebag. Be cool, it really did!
Allow me to explain. I’m talking about the recent Don’t be a #TravelHater campaign for kulula.com by McCann Johannesburg. It started with a generic travel billboard, advertising the affordable fares of kulula.com with the caption, "Durban’s calling", which was later vandalised by graffiti reading, quite simply, "you a douchebag". Kulula.com’s response was equally as simple but informed by a far greater insight. The response was a tag-back on the same billboard which instructed, "Don’t be a Travel Hater", and pointed to the affordable holidays, flights, hotels and car rentals kulula.com provides. The message was clear, you don’t have to be an angry #TravelHater, Chill Winstan, kulula.com has it sorted... and so a campaign was born.


The clever billboard interaction was followed up by a spree of successful online content videos, further billboards, radio and print advertisements. These showed a variety of relatable travel hating scenarios; a #TravelHater peeing in the plants his travelling buddy has asked him to water, a co-worker cutting out the ‘err’ slice of Derrick’s name cake so that it reads, ‘Welcome back, Dick’, a #TravelHater aiming a champagne cork at the throat of a bragging buddy. In short, it was a bunch of scenarios we may each have fantasised over in our darkest travel-hating moments. And people loved them. They loved the brazen display of travel envy – an emotion, it turns out, to which we average Joes strongly relate. Who knew?! Well kulula.com, but more on that insight later. These ads touched on different scenarios making light of our travel envy, making the ‘oke’ at the office, the ‘oke’ housesitting for his buddy, the ‘oke’ listening to travel braggers each relate to the shenanigans, and finally provide, quite literally, the ticket out of travel envy.


The roll-out of this campaign is self-evident, but the question is, where did it begin and what is the great insight that led us here? When chatting to creatives on the campaign, creative directors John Withers and Theo Egbers, they explained the core of the idea: the social media phenomenon. We live in a world hugely influenced by what everyone else is doing, brought to us directly through social media. We publish our ideal lives on Instagram, carefully constructing only the happiest, best looking, and most exciting home page. By the same token, we also feel left out and experience proper ‘FOMO’ when we are constantly bombarded with everyone else’s exciting lives. This is not a revolutionary discovery – there has been extensive discussion into the societal impact of social media. Usually published in articles urging one to “Look up!” shared furiously across Facebook and Twitter (yes people we must laugh at ourselves).

What is new is appealing to the insight learnt from this. Because the truth is, we are all #TravelHaters! Admit it! We are all envious of our friends, family and colleagues, who seem to always be on one great adventure after another. And that is the point. Using this insight, the campaign has been cleverly designed to recognise the travel envy within us all and, whilst providing the opportunity for a self-deprecating laugh as we recognise our own travel envy, provide the solution.

It is no surprise then that this campaign has taken off (sorry, had to be done) the way it has. It has further enhanced a quirkiness with which kulula.com has become synonymous and has produced the best performing content videos kulula.com has ever created – a number of them reaching over 1,000,000 views. The campaign deliberately did not produce a TVC specifically, but rather briefed a content production house – Hammerhead TV – to produce a number of hilarious content videos to be shared widely on, wait for it, social media. And it went very well. Ultimately, the #TravelHater campaign exceeded delivery expectations achieving over 61 million impressions, 230 thousand website link clicks and over 9.4 million video views so far. As John Withers explains, “What a lot of brands experience when they share content on social media is a fair amount of mixed reviews. Whereas kulula.com got an overwhelmingly positive response with an almost 95% response that was positive and engaging.”

Well, no wonder. It’s an idea that speaks to (and speaks up for) us average Joes (and Jospehines)!
As for where the campaign is headed from here? Onwards and upwards, of course.

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