Booking.com recently casted Idris Elba as the main spokesperson for the Superbowl and summer campaigns. Why Idris?
‘I always say that we're a mass-market brand with a bit of aspiration. I like to be like IKEA, VW or Lego. Booking.com has that kind of brand feel. It’s very accessible, it's for everyone - regardless of budget. So, first we made a long list of 80 celebrities in the US that could be a fit for our brand, and then we narrowed it down. The key thing is that Idris Elba really has universal appeal; everyone likes him. I'm sceptical about market research sometimes, but he did incredibly well. We worked with a small agency, we hired and directed directly, and we did the negotiation with Idris ourselves. We also worked with one of the best directors in the biz.’
What did the campaign with Idris bring to booking?
‘The latest numbers say we're doing well. I look at the world from three angles: we have high-intent marketing, medium-intent marketing, and low-intent marketing. Low-intent marketing is our general brand marketing, for example our Idris Elba ads. That's really about driving brand consideration and awareness. In many markets across the world, we're a household name. In the US we're a challenger. But we're really climbing; our top-of-mind awareness has more than doubled in the past years.’
Does the Superbowl campaign also have an activation layer to it? Or is it more about consideration awareness?
‘We had a whole activation around it and I was also really proud of the 67 commercials in the Superbowl. Before the game, we were the 6th most watched commercial on YouTube. It's really driving that kind of overall awareness of Booking.com, and making clear what the role of our brand is. I'm also really excited about UEFA women's football in the UK. We launched a beautiful campaign that focuses on little girls learning how to play football. Social engagement is really the key.’
Is Booking.com purpose-driven?
‘I want us to be truth-tellers, and to be very authentic and clear about the role we play in peoples' lives, namely: making it easier to experience the world in a quick and easy way, and being able to book your travel very quickly. That kind of truth-telling is really important. And if you have watched the Idris Elba campaigns, that's exactly what we're trying to achieve. We're not sexy, we're not lit, but we're Booking.com and we're very good at what we do. Also, as a brand, you want to have a product edge. We live in the age of technology, so what differentiates you? What makes you better? Claiming an emotion will increasingly become more difficult when you want to appeal to a huge audience. Of course, we'll make it fun and engaging and energizing, but it needs to be true.’