Ad of the Day: Expedia

The travel site tells a cancer survivor's almost unbearably poignant story

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Expedia's journey through darkness into light continues.

The travel site isn't shying away from big, difficult topics in its "Find yours" campaign from 180 LA. Back in October, it unleashed a powerful long-form spot endorsing gay marriage through the story of a father who tells of the long journey he took to understand his lesbian daughter—but not before he almost disowned her. Now, the brand has released an even more gut-wrenching spot—the three-minute film below starring Maggie Cupit, a cancer survivor who offers an almost unbearably poignant reminiscence of a young friend named Odie.

Odie was 13 when they met. They were both patients at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Maggie fought back her cancer and became healthy; Odie died from his. In the spot, Maggie is seen traveling to Dallas for a St. Jude's fundraiser, where she tells Odie's story—remembering their incredible bond, and in particular his almost superhuman fearlessness in the face of a viciously untimely death. Like the earlier spot, this one is about more than one kind of trip. It relates a physical journey and an emotionally transformative one at the same time—which is Expedia's larger point about all kinds of travel. "Find your understanding" was the tagline on the earlier spot. This one ends with "Find your strength."

It's a commercial that frankly bowls you over. It will have its enemies who will say it's exploitative. But in fact it feels like the opposite. It's a story that deserves to be heard by as many people as possible—it was created in collaboration with St. Jude's and thus is also a de facto PSA—and if Expedia wants to tell it, and tie a brand positioning to it, that's not the worst thing in the world. And even if it is opportunistic, it nevertheless has a tangible charitable aspect. Over at the Expedia website, the company is matching donations to St. Jude's up to $250,000.

In the wilds of uncertainty, pain and loss, these Expedia ads suddenly discover redemption. That's a significant accomplishment—and not out of character at all for a company that helps you see everything the world has to offer.


Client: Expedia

Agency: 180 LA

Executive Creative Director: William Gelner

Creative Director: Gavin Milner

Copywriter: Mike Burdick

Art Director: Mike Bokman

Head of Production, Managing Partner: Peter Cline

Producer: David Emery

Production Company: Boxer Films

Director: David Adam Roth

Director of Photography: Lawson Deming

Executive Producer: Beth George

Producer: Emile Hanton

Editorial Company: Rock Paper Scissors

Editor: Gabriel Britz

Producer: Alexandra Zickerick

Executive Producer: C.L. Weaver

Assistant Editor: Ko Massiah

Colorist: Bob Festa

Transfer Facility: New Hat

Recording Studio: Eleven Sound

Mixer: Scott Burns

Assistant Mixer: A.J. Murillo

Executive Producer: D.J. Fox

Composer: Adam Taylor

Brand Marketing Director: Vic Walia

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.