ANALYSIS: Thomson: truth and daring

Public cynicism about the travel and banking industries is being countered by straightforward, honest tactics. Julian Lee reports

Public cynicism about the travel and banking industries is being

countered by straightforward, honest tactics. Julian Lee reports

Each day, every day, a consumer is told any number of things about a

product by its manufacturers. They are told that it will enhance their

looks, revolutionise their love life or simply save time.

But they are rarely told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the


So it was with much trepidation that Thomson, the UK’s largest tour

operator, decided that honesty really is the best policy.

Last week, the company published its flagship Summer Sun brochure

complete with a ‘warts and all’ rundown of its resorts.

Musical youth

Punters looking to book next year’s summer holiday at the popular

Sandals Hotel in Montego Bay, for example, are warned: ‘Be prepared for

some aircraft noise’.

The Hotel Pueblo in Benidorm, on the other hand, has a disco that

‘attracts a lot of young Spanish guests. This is not the hotel for a

particularly quiet holiday.’

Thomson is putting pounds 4.5m into an ad campaign to promote its

‘tells-it-like-it-is’ stance.

It’s a risk, but if anyone can afford to take it then it is Thomson. Of

the 8.5 million Brits who buy packaged holidays, more than 30% go with


Last week’s move, though, was no corporate whim but the result of a

year-long study of its customers. Thomson analysed the three million

response forms that customers fill in on their return from holiday and

deduced that travel agents come perilously close to estate agents in the

honesty league tables.

‘Research showed that customers were asking for more information,’ says

Thomson’s Russell Ameresaka. ‘We decided to go one step further and take

the plunge. It’s a brave move but it is a long-term one.’

Thomson is endowing its brand with the virtue of trust and at the same

time creating a point of difference in a market place that, as industry

observers will testify, is devoid of distinct identities.

It was a similar scenario that faced NatWest Bank in 1994, and one that

forced it to take the honest route.

Emotional investment

Like the travel sector, high street banks have struggled to strike a

chord with the consumer. And, like holidays, money is an emotive subject

for many people.

The constant failure on the bank’s behalf to deliver its promises led

NatWest to change in strategy. In the early 90s, its line ‘We’re here to

make life easier’, became tainted with irony as banks became synonymous

with bad service and harsh treatment of their more impecunious


To instill more trust in its customers, NatWest decided to focus on

marketing what it could deliver - its products.

Out went the service-with-a- smile philosophy and in came the ‘More than

just a bank’ line, emphasising the breadth of services on offer.

NatWest was finally being honest about what it could deliver, says

NatWest’s head of brand communications Ian Schoolar.

‘Trust is the key word in financial services. It is an important part of

people’s lives. It is such a difficult thing to build - but so easy to



Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Virgin, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer
Mumsnet admits users' emails and passwords accessed via Heartbleed bug backs 'rubbish' mobile app with TV ad
Powerade launches global World Cup campaign
Subway considers taking fast food to fast lane with F1 sponsorship
Burberry's flagship Shanghai store facade responds to weather changes
Ikea splurges 'grey' Belgium with colour
Grim outlook for Tesco boss Philip Clarke ahead of expected profits fall
Thomson to create first crowd-sourced wedding decided by Facebook fans
Currency wars meets origami in Alpari FX trading ad campaign
Amazon rumoured to launch 3D smartphone in September
Facebook to allow European users to store and transfer money on site, claims report
Unilever pilots multi-brand advertising with YouTube beauty channel
Lego, Coca-Cola, Net-a-Porter, Bitcoin and AOL: the digitally creative brands