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UK-based Belmond, which rebranded earlier this year from its former name, Orient-Express Hotels, has launched its first advertising campaign, an unorthodox mix of long-form print ads sans tagline and rich media banner ads.
The Belmond Captures ad campaign, created by Ralph Aruzza, Belmond’s chief sales and marketing officer, and Agency Sacks in New York, is 65% print and 35% digital, and has a 2014 budget of $3 million.
The campaign is a couple of weeks old, and in the midst of it all the brand’s handlers didn’t mind at all that the George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin wedding gala took place at the Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice, a fact that the brand didn’t plan on publicizing, but the couple did. Website traffic spiked up to 350% over the same days a week earlier.
The copy-led, long-form print ads, which are appearing in the U.S. and UK in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and a mix of travel and lifestyle publications, including Travel+Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler and Architectural Digest, evoke simple, intimate and uniquely local experiences for members of this seemingly exclusive network.
“We wanted the ads to paint a picture of the company for global travelers,” Aruzza says. “We sought to capture a sense of the experience or life at the destination.”
Belmond’s ads are intended to make the reader feel “like they are in the club with us and we are speaking to them directly,” Aruzza adds.
Below, for example, is the print ad for the Belmond Hotel Splendino in Portofino, Italy.
Below is the print ad for the Belmond el Encanto in Santa Barbara, California, which also is running this year.
And the following is an example of the campaign’s rich media banner ads; you can also view several here.
Aruzza says one idea behind the campaign was to differentiate Belmond and its higher-income level guests from competitors’ advertising, which tends to emphasize destination photography and/or an attractive model.
The total budget for the several-year campaign is $15 million, and ads in 2015, which will see more of an even mix of print and digital advertising, will tout luxury journeys in Peru and the Belmond Royal Scotsman rail line.
The hotel, trains, river cruises and tours company had licensed the Orient Express brand from SNCF, and Aruzza says that the deal had not reached the end of its term, but “we decided to have it be over. We decided to return it to them.”
“At the end of the day, Orient Express is a great train brand,” Aruzza says. “It didn’t work for us in hotels.”
Aruzza is hoping that the long-form Belmond Captures campaign indeed works for the company in hotels both for its usual type of clients and beyond.