Eric Quennoy — Executive Creative Director, Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam

Eric talks to TheNextGag about the successful Booking.com brand platform, how they came up with the creative idea, how they evolved the communication and where they plan to take it next.

Eric Quennoy is an Executive Creative Director atWieden+Kenendy Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

One of the legends of modern advertising, he has put his stamp on world-famous campaigns such as Coca-Cola’s “Happiness Factory“, Nike’s “Write The Future“, Heineken’s “The Entrance“, Levi’s “Go Forth” or again EA’s “Life’s Size Messi“.

THENEXTGAG: I WANTED TO TALK ABOUT THE EVOLUTION OF THE BOOKING.COM CAMPAIGN, FROM THE FIRST ONE WITH THE DOOR, TO THE ONE WITH THE SMALL DETAILS AND NOW THE ONE WITH THE HERO.

ERIC QUENNOY: Booking.com is the number one accommodation site on the planet, however until 2013 they had never done any above the line advertising before. Their previous efforts had been focused on SEO rather than building the Booking brand, so they were very much just known as an online service.

The first thing we had to do when creating Booking.com’s first campaign was to find a way to make people feel something for the brand. We had to create a personality and give the brand a character. The marketing team at Booking knew that even though they were number one, they needed to stand for something. To have a point of view on the world in order to resonate more with their customers.

When we looked at existing advertising in the travel and accommodation category we noticed that most of it was very price or special-offers driven. It was all very serious and rational. There wasn’t a whole lot of emotion in the work that we saw. We saw this as a big opportunity for us to create work that was very relatable, that made you feel something for the brand. And showed that Booking understood the stress and high-stakes of travel.

What we discovered when delving into the world of holidays is that when you have a vacation — whether it’s one week or three– there is so much riding on that time being perfect. It can make or break your year. It can make or break relationships, or the spirit of a family. We saw a real opportunity to play with that tension, that real emotion that exists around travel. Because if you don’t get the accommodation right, your holiday probably won’t be what you hoped it would be. Which puts a lot of pressure on the booker. When you book that holiday for your family, boyfriend, girlfriend or whoever, if you get it right you are a hero. But if you get it wrong, you are the person that kind of ruined the holiday.

We played with that tension in the first campaign, Booking.Yeah. Specifically that moment when you approach the door, when the success of your holiday hinges on what’s behind it. The relief that washes over you when the accommodation meets your expectations is what we strategically called the “Delight of Right.” Of course, what is right differs for each person, but as Booking.com has the most extensive range of accommodation on the planet, your chances for success are far greater. This idea and global insight is the positioning that underpins all of our campaigns and strategy.

TNG: AND I ALSO WANTED TO DISCUSS ABOUT THE WAY THAT YOU EVOLVED THE BRAND PLATFORM.

EQ: Booking.Yeah was the launch idea and campaign — the way to first introduce the Booking.com brand to a market. And to help drive brand awareness we decided to use the word ‘Booking’ as a positive adjective throughout the communications. For example, “Look at the booking view”, “You got it booking right” etc. Awareness around the world has increased significantly, so it has been quite successful in meeting its objectives.

Moving forward to our 2014 brand campaign, Booking Epic, we carried on from the moment when you’ve opened the door and focus on the little things that make the accommodation epic for each person. Whether it’s the mini soaps, massive swimming pools, or the buffet breakfast that you’re into, Booking.com has the place for you. Basically, as we evolved the campaign, we wanted to showcase that whatever it is that you are looking for, there is the perfect accommodation for you.

In the latest spot — Booking Hero, where we are now, it is all about how Booking.com has the perfect accommodation for every stage of your life, as you grow and evolve as a person. Through the story of one man we showcase the effect perfectly booked accommodations have on shaping the course of your life. Obviously when he’s younger he starts in a very small, cute backpackers in Spain where he meets his future wife and he ends up in a castle with his father-in-law, having successfully arrived and made it as a person and an author. And in between, he finds the perfect place to propose to his wife, the ideal retreat in which to write his book, the ultimate eco-resort for the family, etc. All showing what life can be like when you get it Booking Right.

TNG: SOMETIMES AN AGENCY WILL PRODUCE A WONDERFUL BRAND FILM, BUT THEN IT WILL BE MORE DIFFICULT FOR THEM TO TALK ABOUT THE SERVICES. BUT I THINK THAT YOU MANAGED TO KEEP THE BRAND IDENTITY WHEN TALKING ABOUT THE SERVICES, FROM THE MOBILE APP, TO THE CORPORATE OFFERINGS AND TO THE ONES DERIVED FROM THE GOOGLE SEARCHES, SUCH AS THE FOOTBALL FANS VIDEO.

EQ: Well, we have quite deliberately tried to talk to a range of different people. Even in the launch campaign we had the couple, the family, and everything in between. In the latest work you will see a dad looking for a getaway with his three kids, the football fans that you mentioned, a family on a tropical vacation… We are just trying to show all the different preferences. It’s not just five-star accommodations, there are different things for different needs. Sometimes you just want to find a place in the middle of the desert away from home and everything you’re used too.

It was important to do that, to tie the work to human truths and personal stories. It would be quite easy to just go “Hey, we’ve got a hundred million accommodations”. What’s interesting, and what we always want to make, are spots and campaigns that feel entertaining, relatable and base them on real stories that show the important role holidays and accommodations have in people’s lives.

TNG: WAS THE FIRST ONE DONE BY WIEDEN+KENNEDY IN THE US ?

EQ: No, we did all of that work from W+K Amsterdam — the Amsterdam office is the global creative agency for Booking.com, although some of our other offices are now working with Booking in Japan and Brazil.

Booking.com’s head office is literally on the same street, or rather the canal, as our office — the Herengracht, which is one of the main canals in Amsterdam’s center. It’s only about a five-minute bike ride down the road, so they are essentially a local client for us.

TNG: AND WHAT LIES IN THE FUTURE FOR THE CAMPAIGN ? HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PURSUE THE PLATFORM ?

EQ: Well, that is still to be discussed. We’ve just launched Booking Right, our latest campaign for 2015, but we are always in the process of trying to evolve, to spread the Booking word.

I think as a company Booking.com has a modern, really important touch point. They have great stories that still haven’t been told, like their amazing customer service and their millions of reviews, which is probably the most comprehensive review system of any accommodation website and which has a very in-depth amount of feedback and stories from real customers.

Booking.com is an incredibly customer-centric company and they spend all their energy really making that booking experience as effortless and delightful as possible. I am not just saying that because they are our brand, but because it’s true. If you go on the website, the details and lengths they go to facilitate the experience is incredible. You can see this on their mobile app Booking.Now as well, which is an app where you can spontaneously find an accommodation, wherever you are, at any moment. On this app, it geo-targets you so you can find the nearest accommodation within a one-kilometer range and book instantly in that moment.

Basically, there are lots of really great things Booking.com do for their customers so there are plenty of touch points and stories we still need to tell.

Eric Quennoy

Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam

Executive Creative Director

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