Travelocity Has a New Agency but the Same Old Gnome in ‘Wander Wisely’ Campaign

Campbell Ewald continues the journey

Travelocity may have parted ways with the agency that created its famous Roaming Gnome character, but the pint-sized spokesman is still a fixture in the online travel agency's advertising—and now he's doling out advice on how to get the most out of a trip. 

Campbell Ewald launched its first ad for the brand on Friday after winning the account in September. "Do not mistake this for a vacation," opens the voiceover as a surfer in a wetsuit strolls down a boardwalk toward the ocean. 

"This is a journey—a journey where maps give way to meandering," it continues as a couple amble through a rolling valley.

Elsewhere in the 60-second commercial, a woman lounges, unhampered by her busy schedule back home. Mostly, though, themes of exploration and discovery are developed—another woman jumps off a cliff into a natural pool. There's the obligatory gorgeous safari shot, then the camera cuts back to the surfer as the copy waxes on about the importance of new adventures.

"Wander. You won't get lost. You might even find yourself," it says.

The frame zooms out to a hillside, where the gnome perches like some kind of benevolent travel god, overlooking the wave-seeking protagonist running down the beach, finally in gear. "Or at least, someone who looks really, really familiar, but tells much more interesting stories," the gnome concludes. 

It's well written and charming enough, playing to millennials and their widely perceived love of experiences (Travelocity also hired a new media agency to reach a younger audience). Regardless of age group, it's hard to argue with the basic—if not particularly groundbreaking—logic that travel is personally enriching, and probably more exciting than the average workday (unless you're the real-life equivalent of George Clooney's character in Up in the Air—if so, give yourself a staycation instead).

The tagline, "Wander wisely," does a fine job of summing up the ad's spirit, include its slightly pedantic and patronizing air.

In the end, though, it isn't surprising that the globetrotting lawn ornament—created by McKinney during its first crack at the business in the mid-'00s—is still part of the brand strategy: Travelocity's execs literally brought the prop with them when they flew over to tell Campbell Ewald that it won the account last fall. 

CREDITS

Client: Travelocity

Agency: Campbell Ewald

President: Kevin Wertz

Chief Creative Officer: Mark Simon

Executive Creative Director: Jo Shoesmith

Director of Production: John Haggerty

Art Director: Kelly Warkentien

Copywriter(s): Mike Rushing, Joe Godard, Kelsey Webster

Account Director: Brian Phelps

Account Executive(s): Brianna Loveland and Kelly Maise

Planning Director: Kari Shimmel

Strategic Planner(s): Chris Marchegiani and Ken Walker

Production Company: Aero Film

Lance O'Connor – Executive Producer

Skip Short – Executive Producer

Klaus Obermeyer – Director

Johan Palm – Director of Photography

Anton Maillie – Line Producer

Cori Cooperider –  Executive Producer

Marla Whittaker – Head of Production

Patrick Knight – Post Producer

Post-Production: Parachute

Sara Eolin – Parachute Executive Producer

Sam O'Hare – VFX Lead

Nicole Melius – VFX Producer

Andy Gilbert – 3D Lead

Erik Rassmussen – 2D Lead

Editing House: Union Editorial

Editor:  Marco Perez 

Producer Joe Ross

Music House: Mophonics 

Audio Mix: Lime Studios

Mixer: Joel Waters