Holiday Inn Express may not have stayed smart, but it is trying to get smart again.
The brand is reviving its popular, long-running "Stay Smart" message with two new spots from Ogilvy & Mather, which won the business last year. The original campaign, which featured commercials ending in the line "But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night," ran for 11 years, starting in 1998, and was originally created by Fallon.
The new ads follow the familiar formula, in which average people find themselves magically endowed with remarkable talents thanks to a great night of budget-hotel sleep (yeah, right). One spot features a talented acupuncturist who turns out to be a well-rested and oddly presumptuous delivery man, and his patient, who is surprisingly (or perhaps appropriately) relaxed about the whole thing. (Still, there has to be a lawsuit in there.) The other spot features a genius mathematician who solves an impossible (and, in reality, non-existent) problem—even though he's actually just a visiting parent. Even worse, his daughter is a dance major. Because, ha ha, come on, why can't your progeny study something real?
The jokes aren't gut-laugh funny, but the ads are solid enough to fit, and fulfill the brand's desire to cash back in on a classic campaign (a rare enough beast in its own right). Whether they have the same offbeat charm as some of the spots from the original run is a different question. But they're definitely a step up from the generic individualism that comprised some the brand's advertising in the interim.
Now, it just has to keep getting smarter.
Client: Holiday Inn Express
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather
Directors: The Perlorian Brothers