Adwatch (Feb 1) - Top 20 recall: First Choice

First Choice finale of the ad, featuring the destination, feels like an anticlimax after an exciting journey
First Choice finale of the ad, featuring the destination, feels like an anticlimax after an exciting journey

Ads fall short of making a compelling case for booking a holiday through an agent.

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Leftover turkey. Thoughtless presents. X factor Christmas singles. At this time of year we’ve all got a lot to get away from. And, as we are told by our TVs, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about the family holiday.

Among the usual assortment of plastic sofa ads, yellow food commercials, and starburst-peppered retail ads, there was a holiday ad that interested me. It was a fairly upbeat little commercial, offering us all a bout of escapism. It was for First Choice.

We’re shown a family who’ve booked a package holiday. And boy, have they done well. As they set off on their trip, people line the streets, high-fiving them. Airplane staff salute them. Valets slap them on the back. Pool attendants offer them drinks. Everyone is out to congratulate the genius of our otherwise Mr Average, for his astute judgment. It’s the treatment a returning war hero would get.  

Is it a bit too much like Moneysupermarket meets Virgin Airlines?

All the relevant touch points are woven in: flights, car hire, hotel reservations. Every support point in the brief is there.

Then, at the end, the energy of the commercial takes a bit of a nose-dive, when we see the holiday brochure shot, empty of all the razzmatazz except for our hero family. After such an exciting journey, the actual destination, rather than demonstrating its tranquility, feels like a bit of an anticlimax.

The message behind the commercial was clear, if a tad questionable: you feel fantastic, utterly over-the-moon, when you get every teeny tiny bit of your holiday all sorted out for you.

Is this really how it makes you feel?

The ad doesn’t get anywhere near the lovely, emotive insight offered by Thomson. For them, a holiday offers you precious time for reconnecting you with your loved ones. Crikey, even the kids will stop beating each other up.

Ultimately, I can’t help thinking that First Choice will have to work harder to convince us of the merits of package holidays. A recent magazine article listed 40 things the modern world has made redundant. Number 9 on the list was booking a package holiday through a travel agent.

The idea of package holidays is becoming obsolete. People are becoming their own tour operators, searching out cheap flights and hotels online. Airlines offer their own comprehensive deals on hotels and cars. The poor old travel agent is being squeezed from every angle. Soon he’ll go the way of the video store and the film developers.

Fighting the corner of the package holiday with a strategy of the cleverness of the easy/lazy way of doing it may well work for some people. But I suspect that the ones who organise their own holidays get to feel much cleverer.

Brand Strategy Verdict? 

The appeal of package holidays is waning and the brand is going to have to try much harder to convince the public of the merits of booking a package holiday through a third party.  ? ?This in combination with the fact that the ad doesn’t leave you with a connection or an emotional insight, suggest that First Choice are close but are still missing something.

6 out of 10

Adwatch (Feb 1): Top 20 recall
Latest Jan-25 Brand Agency/TV Buyer Recall
rank       %
1 (–) Iceland 

The Tom Reddy Agency/

MediaCom North

2 -1 Argos 

CHI & Partners/


3 (5=) Sky  WCRS/MediaCom 46
4 -14 Asda 

Saatchi & Saatchi/


5 -4 Marks & Spencer 


Walker Media

6 (–) Harveys  HMDG/Mediavest 41
7 (–) Lemsip Max 

Euro RSCG London/


8 (–) 

In-house & Hornet Inc/


9 -11 Currys/PC World 

M&C Saatchi/

Walker Media

10= (–) Morrisons  DLKW Lowe/MEC 35
10= -10 Sainsbury's 

Abbott Mead Vickers


12 (–) Comet 

Euro RSCG London/


13= (-) Wickes  MWO/MEC 33
13= (-) Furniture Village  Golley Slater/TMW 33
13= (-) Dyson  In-house/PHD 33
13= (-) National Lottery EuroMillions 

Abbott Mead Vickers


13= (-) First Choice  BMB LLP/MediaCom 33
18 (-) Dreams  RKCR Y&R/Starcom 32
19 (-) Kellogg's Special K  Leo Burnett/Carat 28
20 (17=) The Co-operative 

TBWA Manchester/

PHD Rocket



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