Samsonite Targets Road Warriors

By Kathy Tyrer

LOS ANGELES–TBWA Chiat/Day’s first ad campaign for The Samsonite Corp. attempts to reposition the company as a provider of travel solutions, not just a luggage manufacturer.

The campaign, ‘War Stories,’ broke last week with two TV ads that spoof the way business travelers recall the hassles they encounter in their journeys. The complete campaign, which will include print and additional TV work, marks Samsonite’s first global ad effort. It will be backed with a $30 million budget, double Samsonite’s ad spending for 1996.

The Denver-based client worked with Leo Burnett in Chicago for 10 years before hiring TBWA Chiat/Day in Venice, Calif., to handle its advertising earlier this year.

‘We decided we didn’t just want to be in the luggage business and we wanted something different,’ said Samsonite vice president Jim Barch. The client decided to try to capture how people relate their travel war stories.

‘On one hand, it’s a serious topic for people who travel a lot,’ Barch said. ‘On the other, as you relate your horror story, you do it with a bit of lightheartedness. Imagine yourself at a cocktail party, explaining how you had to get from one airport gate to another.’

One ad shows a female business executive on an international business trip approaching a customs desk. After targeting one of two agents who looks friendly, she is able to swiftly maneuver her Samsonite EZ Cart suitcase, beating another traveler to the desk. The agent turns out to not be friendly after all and the traveler is asked to empty her suitcase for inspection, revealing its internal organizational features.

Tony Stern served as the creative director on the campaign. The tagline, ‘Samsonite. World Proof,’ was developed by TBWA Chiat/Day’s Amsterdam office, which is developing the print part of the campaign.

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