Hotels.com’s Captain Obvious Is Running for President, and He’s Already Been Everywhere

Pun-driven campaign launches 50-state tour

As if the 2016 presidential election weren't enough of a farce already, a new clown is throwing his hat in the ring: Hotels.com's mascot, Captain Obvious. 

In Crispin Porter + Bogusky's latest for the brand, the charismatic buffoon, clad from the waist up in his goofy faux-military dress jacket—but wearing gym shorts below—announces his plans to run for the highest office in the U.S.

Literally.

The campaign's centerpiece TV ad continues the star's namesake tradition of doing things exactly as he says them. To wit: He delivers his speech from a treadmill instead of a podium, because he's fit for office. Get it?

Introduced in 2014, Captain Obvious always risked being a one-trick pony, but the agency has done a decent job of keeping him alive, with pieces like a Facebook autoplay video ad that's better when muted (the default autoplay setting on Facebook). The new, politically themed gag is a reasonable bit of topical opportunism, insofar as it doesn't depart from the brand's actual business.

And in fairness, there is a real connection, however tangential: Hotels.com estimates that each presidential candidate will spend an average of $405,000 on hotels, including lodging for a dozen staffers, over 212 days on the road during primaries and caucuses. 

The humor gets better as you explore the campaign more deeply. Beyond the 60-second spot, a website includes shareable, snackable content, like blasé Captain Obvious GIFs, plus 50 short videos of his "visits" to every state (alongside hotel recommendations). Green-screened on backdrops from each locale, he waxes on about the often-dubious merits of the American landscape.

Overall, it makes for a mixed bag, but the aggregate skews toward hilarious—it's broad enough to keep Captain Obvious in character, but thankfully also avoids overly easy gags. In Florida, a key election swing state, he spends the entire clip—set in the Everglades—swatting at mosquitoes.

The video for Colorado, home to CP+B, includes an inevitable pot joke … but also recounts a lesser-known "fact": That all new arrivals to the state automatically receive labrador retrievers.

Iowa gets a nod to the tradition of deep frying everything, even butter, at its famous state fair. In a moment that showcases actor Brandon Moynihan's knack for physical comedy, he struggles with a bite of a corn dog.

California's showing is weaker, and features an offhand joke about self-important Hollywood types.

It continues down the list of the other states: Being born in Ohio presents a tactical advantage if you plan to run for president. Arizona is famous for a giant hole in the ground. We could go on, but we'll leave you to discover them on your own.

In other words, while his party affiliation isn't immediately clear, it's safe to say Captain Obvious is mostly disinterested—and irreverent. That's probably not a winning political strategy. But he does seem as well-informed any number of other candidates in the field.

CREDITS

Client: Hotels.com

Campaign: Captain Obvious Running for President

Agency: CP+B

Chief Creative Officer: Ralph Watson

Executive Creative Director: Matt Talbot

Executive Technology Director: Harold Jones

Creative Director: Brian Friedrich

Associate Creative Directors: Jexy Holman and Nuno Teixeira

Sr. Interactive Developer: Mai Hoang

Designer: Dominic Scariano

Group Executive Producer, Interactive: Jesse Jones

Integrated Head of Video: Kate Hildebrant

Executive Producer: Sloan Schroeder

Sr. Producer, Interactive: Dan Corken

Jr. Producer, Video: Rachel Noonan

Integrated Producer, Video: Addison Born

Jr. Producer, Interactive: Morgan Burrows

Associate Director, Architecture: Benjamin Sterling

Technical Lead: Tim Svensen

Associate Experience Director: David Irons

Production Company: Caviar, Los Angeles

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Director Of Photography: Ken Seng

Executive Producers (Production Co): Jasper Thomlinson, Kim Dellara

Edit Company: PLUS Productions, Santa Monica

Director of Photography: Ryan Simpson

Editors: Lawrence Young, Andrew Ratzlaff

Assistant Editor: Bryce Harvey

Post Executive Producer: Andrea Krichevsky

Post Senior Producer: Lennon Barnica

Postproduction: Method Studios, Santa Monica

Producer (Postproduction Co): Cara Lehr

Flame Artist: Wensen Ho

Quality Assurance: Hook QA

Music Company: Jingle Punks, Forman Brothers Recording (Announcement TV Spot)

Music Track: Hail to the Chief, The British Grenadier (Announcement TV Spot)

Audio Finishing Company: Lime Studios, Santa Monica

Audio Engineers: Mark Meyuhas, Matt Miller

Audio Producer: Susie Boyajan

Telecine Company: CO3, Los Angeles

Telecine Artist: Siggy Ferstl

Telecine Producer: Matt Moran

Managing Director: Danielle Whalen

Account Director: Sarah Castner

Content Supervisors: Brice Tomlinson and Kelly Boyer

Content Managers: Alyssa Fitterer and Ilyssa Schwartz

Group Director, Strategy: Dean McBeth

Executive Business Manager: Natalie Greenman

Business Affairs Manager, Interactive: Lydia Tirpak

Client Titles & Names: Josh Belkin, VP and General Manager NA, Mike Wolfe, Sr. Director of Brand Marketing, Nick Hayes, Director of Advertising, Melissa Postier, Sr. Brand Manager