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Roads Less Traveled By 360

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Fun-loving monks and a vegetable-lobbing traveler appear in offbeat campaigns for U.S. Franchise Systems here, which launched inaugural TV spots for its Microtel Inn & Suites and Hawthorn Suites last week on national cable channels.
360 in Atlanta created both campaigns. For Microtel, a new chain of about 150 budget hotels, the idea was to showcase the growing number of locations, said 360 creative director Zach Watkins. So the shop married a road trip concept with a pair of Buddhist monks who travel from one Microtel to another on a "journey of enlightenment."
In one 15-second spot, the monks frolic in an amusement park while a voiceover intones: "The less we spend on sleeping, the more we spend on living. Thank you, Microtel."
While the monks may not represent Microtel's core customers, who are primarily middle-class American business travelers, philosophically they're right on target, Watkins said. "Buddhism is the philosophy of . . . appreciating the basics. That falls right in line with the hotel."
The two commercials for extended-stay chain Hawthorn Suites play off the "weird, kooky things" people do in the privacy of their homes, Watkins said. For example, a Hawthorn guest might feel so at home that, for his own amusement, he tosses frozen peas, one by one, into a pot of boiling water--as does a guest in 360's campaign.
Both the Microtel and Hawthorn efforts will run through November on CNN, CNN Headline News, The Weather Channel and CNNsi.