Skift Take

Trivago Guy Tim Williams' fate in Trivago commercials now lies in the hands of the numbers crunchers. No one ever said the travel business or the acting profession are for the meek.

Three Trivago executives returned to the company in May after a 3-year absence, and two months later they brought back a semi-controversial ad pitchman, the Trivago Guy.

Or at least they brought back three of his commercials from 2019.

Actor Tim Williams started appearing as the Trivago Guy in the hotel-comparison site’s U.S. and Canadian commercials at least as far back as 2014, and did voiceover before that. For many years these ads saturated U.S. TV, and were credited with helping Trivago become somewhat of a household name in North America and assisted its becoming a public company.

These commercials often featured an unshaven Williams [backstory below], who notoriously went belt-less. Incidentally, there were other Trivago Guys and Trivago Women spokespeople around the world. Willams was the U.S./Canada character.

People often considered Williams’ look sexy or creepy, with few expressing neutrality. Press reactions ranged from Skift’s Trivago’s Ad Pitchman: Creepy, Handsome or Just Effective? to CNN’s Does the Trivago Guy Need a Makeover?, both written in 2014.

So far this year Trivago’s Find a Great Deal on Your Hotel commercial aired more than 4,800 times on U.S. linear TV, including Wednesday on BET, Buffet ran more than 3,000 times, and Price Difference is closing in on 900 appearances, according to iSpot.TV. All of these ads, which initially were aired in 2019, featured the stubbled Williams counseling the obviously under-informed where to find the best hotel deals, namely Trivago, which is paying his bills.

These ads disappeared shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, and began airing again last month.

Will the Trivago Guy and Trivago Remain a Match?

Alas, Williams’ Trivago Guy — he’s disappeared from the company’s commercials for periods of time at least a couple of times before — may or may not be retained.

His tentative return is part of a changed company strategy, which would see Trivago lean back into brand advertising campaigns, including TV, at the expense of a more transactional, digital ad emphasis.

“Our mission is to reinvigorate Trivago’s growth by enhancing our brand presence,” CEO Johannes Thomas told Skift. “This involves fostering a culture focused on testing, measuring, and learning. We’re taking a more experimental approach to our TV commercials, seeking improved traveler engagement. The ‘Mr. Trivago’ concept, a powerful TV campaign, was aired with different actors globally. Its revival acts as a litmus test for our ongoing advertising strategy, shaping our upcoming marketing initiatives. Tim’s participation in future campaigns is yet uncertain.”

In addition to Williams’ appearance in future Trivago commercials and the Trivago Guy campaign itself being at risk if the tests don’t go well, some would argue that Trivago’s fate, too, is uncertain — hence the apparent urgency of the leadership change three months ago. The company, which is majority-owned by Expedia Group, faces stiff competition, was profitable in its most recent financial quarter, but was trading at $1.18 per share on Thursday.

The Important Things You Need to Know About Actor Tim Williams

  • The reason Williams initially appeared unshaven in Trivago commercials in 2014 is he had just received an acting gig in Guten Zeiten Schlechte Zieten, a TV soap opera in Germany, and had to play a rocker with a hairy countenance, according to a profile in Culture Map Houston, where he was born in 1966. Williams plays guitar and has been in several bands in real life.
  • Williams has lived in Berlin, Germany for more than two decades, and speaks fluent German. Trivago is based in Dusseldorf, Germany, and likely discovered him through his domestic TV appearances there.
  • His acting credits include the Cosby Show, Law and Order, the Sopranos, Labyrinth of Lies, My So-Called Life, and Valkyrie, among others.
  • He visited Skift’s offices — when we had an office — twice over the years. Some Skifters in the office were definitely not in the thinking him creepy crowd.

Uncover the next wave of innovation in travel.
June 4 in New York City
See Who's Coming

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: advertising, expedia, hotels, marketing, metasearch, trivago, tv

Photo credit: Actor Tim Williams as the Trivago Guy in Find a Great Deal on Your Hotel. Source: Trivago

Up Next

Loading next stories