Travelocity’s first campaign from new AOR suggests there’s no place like gnome

By February 28, 2020Advertising

He’s a brand mascot like gnome other and he’s the star in Travelocity’s new marketing campaign. Beginning Monday, the Roaming Gnome will host a series of TV spots for the brand.

Called “Wish You Were Here,” this is Expedia-owned Travelocity’s first campaign from new creative agency-of-record Proof, which like Travelocity, is based in Austin, Texas. Travelocity began working with Proof last year.

The new work, which includes a series of 30- and 15-second spots, continues the use of the “Wander Wisely” campaign that positions Travelocity as the smartest way to book travel arrangements. It also pushes Travelocity membership, which is free and offers special deals and benefits for consumers.

“As the brand that strives to champion travelers along the journey, Travelocity will be promoting membership as just one of the tools that helps make a traveler’s journey even better,” says Laura Molnar, Travelocity’s senior manager of brand marketing, noting that this year, the brand will explore additional ways to add to the membership experience.

In one spot, the gnome waits at a fancy restaurant for his dining companion, who has been busy trying to book travel, and never shows up. In another, he sits in a kayak waiting for someone to join Travelocity as a member and help him paddle. Owned by Booking Holdings, Kayak is a Travelocity competitor the online travel agency space. The gnome has an 80 percent awareness rate among U.S. travelers, according to Molnar.

Expedia’s core online travel agency business segment, which includes Travelocity, generated $2.2 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2019, a 6 percent rise over the year-earlier period.

Yet in recent years, such agencies have been getting squeezed by tech giants Google and Facebook, which are ramping up their travel offerings.

The new campaign comes at a time when Expedia is reevaluating its structure by simplifying its business operations. Last week, the company said it plans to eliminate roughly 500 positions, or 12 percent of staffers in its Seattle headquarters. The strategy also “includes stopping certain projects and activities, [and] reducing use of vendors and contractors,” according to a spokeswoman. She did not elaborate on how ad agency partners could be affected.

In addition to Travelocity, Expedia also owns brands including Orbitz and Orbitz recently appointed Laundry Service as its agency-of-record.

On a February conference call to discuss fourth-quarter earnings, Expedia Chairman Barry Diller spoke about changes ahead.

“We’re simplifying our strategy. We’re stopping doing dumb things and starting to do what we think are good things,” he said. He noted one non-dumb thing will be moving from “every brand working on silos around the world to one strategy on marketing.” He also said Expedia will focus on its own direct business and on building loyal relationships with customers—an initiative the new Travelocity clearly plays into with its focus on members.

The new ads will run on national TV and social and digital channels. Travelocity last worked on a new campaign in 2018 with Campbell Ewald.

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