Holiday Inn Express Touts Breakfasts

CHICAGO The battle over breakfast isn’t just taking place in the fast food category.

Since 2003, when Holiday Inn Express introduced its Express Start complimentary morning meal, limited service competitors like Hampton Inn, Comfort Inn, Fairfield and La Quinta have revamped their continental own breakfast offerings. Now Holiday Inn Express is defending its turf with a new TV campaign breaking during Fox’s telecast of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17.

New work from Fallon, Minneapolis, cheekily calls attention to new hot entrees by positioning the breakfast bar as a nightclub. In one ad, co-workers mingle near the buffet while one guy tosses pick-up lines at his boss. Another 30-second ad shows men discussing whether it’s good form to send a cheese omelet, bacon or a cinnamon roll to a hottie they spot at in the buffet line. The effort also borrows nightlife elements like ladies night the designated driver and play up the free meal and breakfast to go service. Voice over mentions, “Check out the new hot bar in town.”

Steve Ekdahl, director of brand marketing for Holiday Inn Express, said consumers are now more aware of breakfast offerings at hotel chains. That led the InterContinental Hotels & Resorts brand to add cheese omelets, biscuits with sausage gravy, bacon, sausage and scrambled eggs to its lineup of Express Start’s proprietary cinnamon rolls and coffee.
 ”That’s why we refreshed it,” he said. “When guests give us feedback about they stay, breakfast is a big element in determining whether they had a good or bad experience.”

The effort comes as a similar turf war is taking place among McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s, all of which have put more emphasis on breakfast offerings of late.

Budget for the campaign was not disclosed. Measured media spending was nearly $30 million last year and $12 million during 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.