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Wotif prepares for next phase of ‘brave’ Wotifia campaign

Wotif is planning to roll out a second phase of its “brave” Wotifia campaign – despite some people “hating” the creative – with the online travel site also set to turn its marketing efforts to its Lastminute brand.

The brand launched its latest push in August, with debut work  by M&C Saatchi, as it looked to target a younger demographic and broaden its appeal to the general holiday market.

The campaign saw the creation of a fantasy world called Wotifia which featured two characters, Jack and Charlie, taking part in a range of bizarre experiences around the globe. Other ‘characters’ to appear in the video include ‘singing fart bubbles’.

The video received a mixed reaction, with descriptions ranging from “junk” to “brilliant”.

Wotif general marketing manager Michael Betteridge said the campaign had to be “brave” to “stick out in the category”.

“We now want to keep the spirit of Wotifia alive and will be extending the campaign in 2015,” he told Mumbrella. “Just looking at the comments on Mumbrella it evoked a lot of opinion. Some people loved it, others hated it, but they took notice.

“We are fully intending to ramp it up in the new year. It’s a bit of fantasy dream world but everyone’s travel plans are a dream.”

Betteridge claimed the campaign created intrigue more than criticism from some, as they digested the make-believe world of Wotifia.

“The reaction was more ‘wow that is surreal, it’s out there’, which I don’t view as critical. It took a few moments for some to take a breathe and say ‘wow, where did that come from’,” he said. “Whether people liked it or not, it worked in creating conversation. But generally is was overwhelmingly positive.”

He added: “We did say we wanted to be brave and stick out in the category. We also decided to go with a digital media plan. It could have been so easy to look at TV but I made the call to go digital  because we are an online company, we are innovative and we are in the world of social media. But what we did was different to the category in general.”

Betteridge claimed the video was viewed eight million times in various formats across its social and paid for channels, with those who saw the ad and chose to watch it – as opposed to clicking away – hitting 20 per cent.

“The Youtube benchmark is 12 per cent so we were very happy with that,” he said, adding Wotif was the number one branded search term in the online travel category for the duration of the campaign.

“And that was against some big spending competitors,” he said. “We also had our strongest sales in more than two years and more than 50 per cent of people who booked in that period had been exposed to the ad.

“We now want to keep Wotifia alive in all of our communications and will be looking at how we make it more personable. Staff have already made parodies of Wotifia and we’ll be asking social media fans what is their own Wotifia and asking them to come up with their own verses.”

Meanwhile, Wotif is starting to turn its attention to its Lastminute brand with the launch of an app called Secret Hotels. The app will return six hotels on a city search, five of which will be branded, with the sixth a discounted “mystery” property – which will be one of the five branded hotels.

Secret Hotels already features on the lastminute website with the brand recently surprising customers who had booked a secret hotel.

Betteridge said up to 50 per cent of traffic comes through mobiles with an “extraordinary” number of bookings made within seven days. A “concerted” number of those arrive within 72 hours if the stay, he added.

Steve Jones

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