Travelocity Wants to Replace the Agency That Created the Roaming Gnome

Splits with McKinney, launches review

The Roaming Gnome is looking for a new home. Travelocity launched a creative review to replace McKinney, which has done two tours of duty working for the online travel agency.

The Cheil agency, which created the popular gnome spokescharacter, originally won the account in 2003 and worked on it until 2010, when it moved to Leo Burnett and Razorfish. Two years later, the account moved back to McKinney without a review.

Last year Travelocity spent $29 million in measured media, according to Kantar Media. The site said it has already shortlisted a number of agencies and will not be accepting any unsolicited proposals. A new agency is expected to be in place by early October.

The travel company said it launched the agency review in light of a consolidating online travel industry and increasingly complex travelers. In an internal email, Brad Wilson, Travelocity vp and general manager, explained the decision.

"In the hyper-competitive online travel space, breaking through the clutter with both a trusted brand and a fresh consumer message is of paramount importance," he wrote. "By reviewing our creative agency of record, we are ensuring that Travelocity can continue to effectively perform on both of these dimensions."

Earlier this year, Expedia acquired Travelocity after signing a 2013 marketing agreement that called for it to run much of Travelocity's operations, with the exception of marketing. Post-acquisition, Expedia has pledged to retain the Travelocity brand, alongside Expedia's other consumer sites like Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Trivago, Venere, eLong, and CarRentals.com.

McKinney, however, opted out of the review after disagreeing with Expedia's plans for the brand.

"Our interests are not aligned with the direction being taken by Travelocity's new owner, Expedia," said McKinney CEO Brad Brinegar. "Therefore, we have not accepted the invitation to participate in the review. We have a lot of love for this brand and wish them success in the future."