On the big screen, getaways never went as planned for Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo.
Even so, HomeAway has reunited the stars for its first Super Bowl ad. The 30-second spot will feature Chase and D'Angelo reprising their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold from National Lampoon's Vacation to promote the benefits of vacation rentals. It will run during the third quarter of the game.
HomeAway has licensed the rights, through an agreement with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, to use the property across various media throughout 2010. The Austin, Texas-based company even went as far as to purchase a replica of the Griswold's famous Family Truckster car to appear in its ads and for use at promotional events.
The spot will compare the negative experiences at a hotel to the positive attributes of a vacation rental home. The Griswolds will deal with small hotel rooms, hidden fees and a lack of privacy at a hotel. Publicis in the West is the agency.
"HomeAway is a leader in the vacation rental business. We're a reasonable sized company that most people have never heard of," CEO Brian Sharples said. "We're finally at the size and scale where we can afford to do something like this. [After testing some ads] we're convinced the broad reach will have a significant impact on our business."
HomeAway, which notched on significant spending in measured media last year, per Nielsen, joins a long list of small companies that have looked to the Super Bowl as their big shot. Thirty-second spots sell for upwards of $3 million. This year, Cash4Gold and Teleflora shared the spotlight with big perennial Super Bowl advertisers like InBev Anheuser-Busch and PepsiCo. Next year, both of those companies have confirmed they will appear on the telecast of Super Bowl XLIV on Feb. 7, along with Bridgestone, CareerBuilder, GoDaddy.com and Hyundai.
Sharples pointed to the success that other online companies have had by leveraging the Super Bowl spotlight. "Look at Priceline and William Shatner . . . Nine out of 10 times when you ask people who is the most famous traveling family, they say 'the Griswolds.' We don't have to worry about establishing them with our target audience [adults 35-60]. There is very high awareness in the U.S.," he said.
Because of the Internet, Sharples believes the ad will continue to be "as big as it is on game day. Even though the medium is very expensive, there is a public relations overhang from it if you have a breakthrough concept that can extend the dollars you are spending . . . This is part of an overall campaign that will extend far beyond the Super Bowl."