Choice Hotels “Frank and Maria”

In today’s economy, it’s hardly surprising that commercials for a budget-hotel company would emphasize the savings you’ll get thanks to the free breakfast, free Internet access, free newspaper, etc., that it provides. What’s savvy about this campaign for Choice Hotels (via Arnold DC in Washington) is what it says about how you’ll use the savings. At a time when people are economizing like crazy, they don’t want to feel they’ve turned into penny-pinching skinflints. So, we learn that the couple who’ve taken a particular room at this hotel are now out on the town, using some of the money they saved on lodging to take an elegant horse-and-buggy ride, complete with driver in top hat and tailcoat. The tacit message is that you stay in one of these inexpensive hotels not because you’re a cheapskate but because you’ve got better things to do with your money than hand it over at a checkout counter. Of course, the spot will appeal to people who actually are cheapskates but prefer not to see themselves in that light — a vast target audience at any time, but especially in a recession. After all, it’s not as though Choice Hotels will turn around and charge you more if it finds out you didn’t take that horse-and-buggy ride. –Mark Dolliver