Thomson is attempting to take the moral high ground in the
traditional New Year’s rush to sign up holiday-makers, with its first
cause-related marketing programme.
The struggling holiday company is promising to donate up to 2000
holidays worth an overall pounds 1m to deserving individuals, and is
backing the initiative with a multi-million pound promotional campaign
called ’Smiles in the Sun’.
Thomson customers in January will be able to nominate unsung heroes whom
they feel deserve a free holiday.
The scheme kicks off with a TV ad about Jane Haynes, a volunteer at
Battersea Dogs’ Home for the past 24 years.
The campaign, thought to be worth at least pounds 1.5m, will break on
January 3, followed by an exclusive promotion through the Daily Mail. It
will be backed by heavyweight point-of-sale promotions at Thomson’s 3500
’preferred travel agents’, a direct mail campaign and a PR drive.
’We wanted to give people a reason to book Thomson without resorting to
price, which is a tough brief to crack,’ said Breffni Walsh, Thomson’s
head of advertising and branding.
With winter sales significantly down year-on-year, Thomson hopes to
bolster summer bookings at a time when operators can take about 25% of
their annual turnover.
The TV ad, created by HHCL & Partners, features Patrick Robinson, former
star of BBC’s Casualty. It will coincide with a door-drop to one million
homes and targeted mailings to 500,000 previous Thomson travellers from
the company’s database.
The CRM initiative should also boost morale among staff in what has been
a tough year for Thomson. Chief executive Paul Brett was ousted in the
summer following his damaging comments that the company would flood the
market with cheap deals should Airtours and First Choice merge. The
merger was blocked by European regulators.
Sales have also been poor and the recently floated company has suffered
a tumbling share price.