Will Booking.com, Expedia.com or Vrbo create Super Bowl ads that everyone will be talking about in the days after the Big Game? We haven't seen them yet, but so far it sounds as if they are trotting out very predictable and familiar themes.
Netherlands-based Booking.com, which will air its first-ever Super Bowl advertisement in the fourth quarter on February 13, is hoping the game will be a riveting cliff-hanger at that point to keep the viewership up. Meanwhile, the brass at Expedia, which will run its first big game ad in a decade during the first quarter, is probably rooting for the face-off to be a yawner by the final quarter when its rival gets the air time.
Such will be the online travel industry’s marketing drama with 30-second ads costing up to $6.5 million for Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles, with an expected TV audience of 100 million people to view them.
Expedia Group’s Vrbo vacation rental brand will kick things off in the NBC pregame show in the U.S. (and at halftime in Canada) with a 60-second ad created by ad agency Wieden + Kennedy. Vrbo’s ad will push the message that the people you travel with are more important than the destination, according to an Expedia Group spokesperson.
When it was an independent company called Homeaway, Vrbo’s predecessor brand ran Super Bowl ads in 2010 and 2011.
Expedia.com will air a 30-second spot in the first quarter in partnership with ad agency Anomaly centering on the advantages of “experiences” over “things,” the spokesperson said.
“We committed to the Super Bowl spot seven months ago,” said Jon Gieselman, president of Expedia Brands. “I’m not a ‘do a Super Bowl ad for the sake of it’ kind of guy, so I wanted to make sure there was a ‘why’ behind it. And there is – it’s a big vote of confidence in 2022 as the year of the return to travel and we’re launching a new brand platform.”
Gieselman said that he doesn’t view the spot as the beginning of “just a new ad campaign. This is the introduction of the message and personality of Expedia moving forward. ”
An Expedia Group spokesperson added that the company doesn’t need to stoke demand because people already want to travel. “We just need to communicate clear reasons to travel with us.”
Of course, Booking.com will be making a similar and counter argument as the two companies vie for market share in Seattle-headquartered Expedia’s strongest market, the U.S.
In December 2021, according to analytics firm SimilarWeb, Expedia.com’s 58.4 million desktop and mobile visitor numbers in the U.S. were about 34 percent higher than Booking.com’s, which has been winning market share in the last few years. Booking.com visitors, however, tended on average to be more highly engaged, spending more time on Booking.com than on Expedia.com.
In a 30-second spot, Booking.com will revitalize its 2013 Booking.yeah brand campaign, said Chief Marketing Officer Arjan Dijk, adding that one opportunity is that mid-February is a time when many people start mulling their spring break or summer travel plans.
“Combined with the momentum we have (in the U.S.) and the market, we really believe it is the right time to go big,” Dijk said. “We really want to show to a very broad American audience we are there, and we are the easiest platform.”
Booking.com is a larger hospitality-oriented brand than Expedia globally, and has been making inroads in the U.S. Some parts of Europe, though, such as Booking’s headquarters’ location, the Netherlands, are still locked down.
Asked if there was a debate within the company about whether to advertise in the Super Bowl, Dijk said, of course there was, adding that he exchanged texts with Booking Holdings CEO Glenn Fogel during the Christmas break about whether Dijk was sure the timing was right.
Booking shot the ad, developed with ad agency Horses & Mules, in several locations in December.
It’s unclear whether Airbnb, which ran its We Accept Super Bowl ad in 2017, will buy an ad in the 2022 rendition. Asked whether it would, an Airbnb spokesperson said the company has “nothing to share.”
Vrbo, of course, will be advertising during the pre-game. A much smaller platform than Airbnb, Vrbo has claimed to be making market share gains against Airbnb, particularly in the U.S., although Vrbo hasn’t offered specific proof of that.
Turkish Airlines will also be advertising in Super Bowl’s 2022 edition. Alaska Airlines ran a spot in certain markets in 2021, and Turkish Airlines advertised in 2020.
Correction: Turkish Airlines will indeed advertise during the 2022 Super Bowl in contrast to what we originally reported.
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Tags: booking.com, expedia, marketing, super bowl, vrbo
Photo credit: The site of Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles on February 13, 2022. Pictured is a Dec 21, 2021 file photo in Inglewood, California. A general overall interior view of an empty SoFi Stadium before the game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks.