Holiday Inn Express Launches Ad Contest

Holiday Inn Express, encouraged by the response it has received for its “Stay Smart” commercials showing ordinary people empowered by a good night’s rest at its hotels, will turn over its advertising to its customers in its “Express Your Smarts” contest.

Entries, available in lobbies, online and at Gold’s Gym, are due by July 20; scripts must feature the Holiday Inn Express punch line. The winner gets his or her spot aired on Discovery Network plus a trip to sites like NASA’s Ames Research Center and Stanford University.

The contest coincides with a new installment in the series, which features the rock group Kiss. The spot, via Fallon, Minneapolis, opens with a shot of Kiss wrapping up an encore amid a crowd of screaming fans.

The triumphant band walks back stage through gaggles of groupies to its dressing room. A manager congratulates the quartet for a great show and harps about a world tour. As the band members remove their makeup, he says, “You guys aren’t Kiss.” The Paul Stanley impersonator replies, “No, but we did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.”

“Stay Smart,” which bowed in 1998 to boost the Bass Hotels & Resorts budget brand, last year veered from the outrageous to awkward with scenes such as a best man stumbling out of an embarrassing wedding toast about “two hot babes” he and the groom had befriended.

The campaign, which has boosted brand awareness by 40 percent since its inception, has helped the client become the fastest-growing mid-tier hotel brand.

The company has credited the campaign for enabling it to hit its $1 billion annual sales goal in 1999, a year ahead of schedule.