Travelocity’s Gnome Roams on MySpace

NEW YORK Travelocity is the latest advertiser to seek out friends on MySpace through an ad icon.

The company’s Roaming Gnome mascot, introduced in 2004, has established a profile on MySpace (www.myspace.com/roaminggnome) that offers users special perks and deals when they add him as a friend.

Travelocity, which believes it is the first advertiser in the category to set up shop on MySpace, is hoping the gnome’s appeal will generate more of an audience than a typical brand profile, said John Keehler, a strategist at ClickHere, the Internet unit of The Richards Group.

“There were already people who were creating unofficial gnome profiles,” he said. “We saw that as a good opportunity for Travelocity to get involved in the space through the gnome.”

Ad icons have proven big draws on the social network. Burger King has used its King mascot to gather 135,000 friends, Wendy’s used its Square character to attract 70,000 friends, and Honda’s Gil the Crab has also established a healthy following.

Travelocity has made a yearlong commitment to the MySpace campaign, which includes six weeks of media to build a user base. The company will actively participate in the MySpace community, with the Gnome commenting on friends’ profiles and blogging at least once per week, Keehler said.

While the campaign is not viewed as a direct-response push, Travelocity will track bookings that result from deals and offers sent to MySpace users.

“This is for them mostly about building brand loyalty, with their core customers but we’re looking at those other things, too,” Keehler said.