Silicon Valley’s Martin Starr Chills in the ‘No Pressure Zone’ in Hotwire’s Surreal New Ads

Where time is just a construct

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Shopping for a good price on a hotel room can be stressful, with deals coming and going all the time. But with Hotwire, you don’t have to stress out, because there are good deals all the time, the online travel brand says in a new campaign from Heat.

This is dramatized in trippy fashion in ads depicting the “No Pressure Zone,” a Dali-esque environment where actor Martin Starr (best known lately for playing Bertram Gilfoyle on HBO’s Silicon Valley) hangs out with a sitar-playing goat named Carl and reflects on how time is merely a construct of human perception.

In other words, don’t feel rushed to get that great deal on a room right now. There’ll always be another one right around the corner.

Along with the :30, there is the :15 below, in which Starr tells us the best day to secure a good deal on Hotwire—which, of course, is any day at all.

Starr is amusingly deadpan throughout. The goat performs competently as a classic emblem of the surreal. And the spots, directed by David Shane of O Positive, nicely tackle an emotional truth about the category to position Hotwire as the antidote—just a year after the brand was itself pressuring you to book a vacation nowbefore you die a grisly death.

“We wanted to poke fun at high-pressure sales tactics, from spokespeople to mascots to salesy language,” Heat creative director Elaine Cox tells Adweek. “Even our call to action—book now, or don’t—pushes against the craziness of the category. Because when people are ready to book, they will. And Hotwire deals will always be there. Today, tomorrow, the day after, the day after that, and the day after that.”

Adds creative director Nichole Geddes: “When booking rooms with online travel agencies, deals are always expiring and supplies are always limited. There’s always pressure to get a deal. But Hotwire has great deals all the time. And we wanted to tell people that there’s no pressure to book right now, because great deals are always available. So they can book whenever. No pressure necessary.”

Client: Hotwire
Campaign: No Pressure Zone

Agency – Heat
CCO – Steven Stone
CEO – John Elder
CSO – Justin Cox
Managing Director – Aaron Lang
Creative Director – Elaine Cox
Creative Director – Nichole Geddes
Senior Art Director – Austin O’Connor
Senior Writer – Phil Van Buren
Director of Integrated Production – Joyce Chen
Senior Producer – Andy Rosenthal
Senior Producer – Arielle Davis
Associate Producer – Christine Hurty
Account Director – Olivia Balicki
Account Supervisor – McKenzy Golding
Account Executive – Paris Clark
Business Affairs – Ryan Alls
Head of Business Affairs – Ramin Mirshah

Production Co
O Positive
Director – David Shane
EP – Ralph Laucella
Producer – Ken Licata
DP – Jeff Cronenweth
Production Designer – Heidi Adams

Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Christjan Jordan
AE: Pieter Viljoen
EP: Rana Martin
Producer: Dani DuHadway
Managing Director: Linda Carlson

The Mill – New York
Executive Producer: Melanie Wickham
Producer: Luis Martin
Production Coordinator: Sophie Mitchell
Shoot Supervisor: Antoine Douadi
2D Lead: Antoine Douadi
3D Lead: Emily Meger, Andres Eguiguren
2D Artists: Sung Eun Moon, Christoph Schroer
3D Artists: Gordana Fersini, Hannah Lee,Kathy Hui Na Li, Tim Kim, Nick Couret, Scott Denton
Motion Graphics: Bobby Ushiro, Kyle Leicht
Colorist: Josh Bohoskey

Music + Mix
Composer: Beacon Street Studios – Andrew Feltenstein + John Nau
Producer: Lindsey Lerman
Sound Design/Mixer: Rommel Molina
Mix Assistant: Vivi Rojas
SD/Mix Producer: Kate Vadnais

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