Holiday Inn Ads: Stay You, But Stay With Us

Looking to connect with consumers on the rebound from the recession, Holiday Inn is launching a $100 million campaign that celebrates its target customer with the theme, “Stay you.”

The effort, via McCann Erickson, premieres on Sunday, May 2, and spans nine global markets, including the U.S., U.K. and Germany. The campaign builds on Holiday Inn’s brand overhaul last year, which included upgrades to its physical locations and ads touting the changes. As part of that $1 billion overhaul, the InterContinental Hotels Group-owned brand had renovated more than 2,200 Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels last year.

This time around, the focus is on the chain’s customer mindset as ads play on the double meaning of the word “Stay.” For instance, in one ad, a man is shown barbequing in the rain next to the text that reads: “Stay determined.” Then there’s an image of a little girl putting a tiara on her father’s head, as the words appear over the image: “Stay dad.”

During the ad, an upbeat song plays in the background. There is a similar ad for Holiday Inn Express that uses the same tune. Steve Ohler, executive creative director at McCann World Group, said the song is meant to convey optimism. “This year is going to be more of an emotional refresh. We wanted people to feel that Holiday Inn is opening its arms to [them],” said Ohler.

In fact, the campaign’s overall vision is to tap into people’s emotions. “We want people to love the Holiday Inn brand because it understands the core values of our target consumer,” said Kevin Kowalski, svp of global brand management for Holiday Inn brands. Those values are independence, self-knowledge, family-first, fulfillment and fun, Kowalski said.

“Stay You” is a milestone for the hotelier because it is the first integrated campaign created by a single ad agency to run globally, according to Kowalski. In Germany, for instance, Holiday Inn will air a TV ad for the first time.

Other components include print, online and out of home across the nine markets. There is also a social media component, although Holiday Inn isn’t sharing the details yet.

Kowalski said that when it comes to the brand overhaul, Holiday Inn means business. In addition to the campaign, the company created a service program called “Stay Real,” which trains the Holiday Inn staff to make sure they provide good service. “It’s a way for us to tell consumers that we’re different at Holiday Inn. It’s a place where you can be yourself,” he said.

InterContinental spent $18 million advertising Holiday Inn hotels/motels in 2009, and $8 million advertising Holiday Inn Express, per the Nielsen Co. (The figures do not include online spend.)

This campaign is the first from McCann since InterContinental consolidated global creative duties on Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express at the shop late last year.