Title: Thomson Dream Holidays
Category: Best Newsbrands Campaign
People don’t decide on their perfect long haul holiday in a moment, they dream and plan and
dream some more. Our challenge was to make Thomson the choice for executing the dream. The
opportunity was the recession – everyone needs their money to go that bit further. As the
category leader Thomson needed to re-inject excitement into the package holiday, by showcasing
their modern take on package holidays to far flung destinations. Our partnership with the
Guardian shifted perceptions of the brand and significantly increased purchase consideration.
Background and Objectives: Change perception of package holidays
Thomson needed to change consumers’ perceptions about package holidays, to take them away
from being synonymous with high-rise hotels, cheap food and busy resorts in the Mediterranean. As
the market leader Thomson’s ambition is to be at the forefront of the modern package holiday - the
best hotels and facilities, new luxury aircraft and exotic destinations.
Therefore our objectives were two-fold; firstly to show that Thomson is a modern holiday provider,
getting consumers to re-consider the brand and to support sales at a crucial time by driving purchase
intent and brand preference.
Insight & strategy: Although money is tight people still want the best for their holidays
Our target group, defined as ‘Sunseekers High Standards’, like the security and value package
holidays offer but are increasingly discerning – they want high quality accommodation, a variety of
destinations and are willing to spend above average to get this. However this audience do not
believe they can obtain all the benefits of a package holiday in a long haul destination.
By using their own customer questionnaire TUI gained great insight into this audience aiding our
media selection and messaging.
Another consideration was with consumer confidence beginning to recover from its lowest in
modern times, we were mindful that we were selling a luxury product when many people had
actually reduced spend on annual holidays or sacrificed them altogether. Despite this landscape we
found that twice as many people had gone on a long haul honeymoon, than had gone on a long haul
holiday. So it seems to take a special occasion for people to go long-haul.
All this helped us come up with our positioning of ‘Dream Holidays’. With Thomson offering a
modern package holiday, our campaign truth was that Thomson makes it easy for you to realise
your holiday-of-a-lifetime; there is no longer any need to wait for a honeymoon, anniversary, or any
other special occasion.
Newsbrands offer a trusted environment which many consumers turn to for research and
information on a variety of topics including holidays, and all offer extensive travel editorial.
Therefore we knew that newsbrands offered the right environment to deliver our brand re-appraisal
The Plan: Showcasing our affordable luxury, long haul destinations
We looked for a newsbrand partner that would allow us to showcase our five destinations: Thailand,
Goa, Maldives, Mauritius and Kenya, showing the audience the exciting destinations whilst
highlighting that Thomson can take them there on its new Dreamliner and offer affordable luxury in
its exclusive hotels.
We knew the Guardian fitted our Sunseekers High Standards audience. On top of this, Guardian
readers are keen travellers, influential propagators of word of mouth.
Showcase: We featured four advertorials in Guardian Weekend featuring the destinations in the
Dream Holidays concept with a section dedicated to how Thomson could get you there.
The Guardian created content on their site that ran across a six week period to showcase our
destinations, with traffic drivers across the Guardian site. This content area featured details on each
destination, a series of galleries showing the best ‘things to see and do’ and a unique competition,
with 6 individual prizes of dream holidays.
Re-target: To maximise the effectiveness we planned digital retargeting activity to commence three
months after the campaign (the time length was determined from insight about decision making),
ensuring we reached those that had seen the content with a tactical, sales-driven message.
We learned that by creating engaging content with a relevant partner, tailoring the message &
content to best suit the consumer behaviour on different platforms is a powerful way to change
brand perception and purchase consideration.
The campaign cut through other travel advertisers at a key time with overall awareness of the
activity reaching 42%, beating our benchmark of 30%. However, more importantly it was effective at
getting people to re-appraise the brand - 42% of those who saw the campaign said they would
consider Thomson for a holiday – this was at just 19% before the campaign.
We influenced word of mouth too with 71% saying they would recommend the content to
someone else: well in excess of the benchmark of 60%.
The content itself had over 60,000 views, with 30,296 unique users. Dwell time on the page was
exceptional at 4 minutes 16 seconds - well above the average of 3 minutes. For the competition,
performance was even better, with a total of 18,629 entrants - more than double the Guardian
Over 70% of those who recalled the print promotion subsequently looked up content online.
“The Thomson Long Haul partnership with the Guardian has been a really strong campaign for
us. Not only have we been able to get our brand in front of a very engaged audience, with over 30k
unique online readers as well as the offline reach, we have managed to change perceptions of the
brand and the destinations that we offer. We also managed to achieve a 20% email opt in rate from
the campaign which will help us to reach this audience and be able to measure a full lifetime ROI
from the activity”
Justin Daich, Online Marketing Manager, TUI UK