For an online travel site, gaining positive news coverage that leads to sales is incredibly challenging when terrorism, war and epidemics such as Sars are dominating the news pages. But on 24 April, an entire page of London's Evening Standard announced Expedia's search for the World's Best Beach.
Timed for the crucial early holiday booking period in Q1/Q2, the search started with a competition to select one applicant to travel to the world's top 20 beaches selected by Expedia users, conduct tests and reveal the result in Expedia's The World's Best Beach Report. The aim was to increase its share of the online traveller market.
The winner of the competition, Pete Shannon, set off on a 79-day, 54,000-mile odyssey, taking 37 flights on his 'holiday of a lifetime', which provided three strong stories: Pete's departure, his homecoming and 'the reveal'.
The World's Best Beach project generated 207 million opportunities to see or hear, gaining coverage from BBC TV News and Radio Five Live to The Times, The Sun and regional press and broadcast media.
Eighty-seven per cent of coverage included both branding and the website address.
The campaign was also responsible for the 'World's Best Tourists' report.
Every national newspaper covered the 'World's Best Tourists'. It became the topic of the day on TV and radio just as school was breaking up for the summer and millions of British tourists were heading overseas. The story provided 122 million opportunities to see or hear the message.
Spontaneous brand awareness for Expedia jumped from 19 per cent in January to 25 per cent in May, and prompted brand awareness to rise from 58 per cent to 63 per cent.
More than 3,000 visitors voted for the initial best beach shortlist.
On the day of publication and media coverage, the site received an unprecedented 14,000 viewings of the report.
COMMENDED - AMAZON.CO.UK WEAVES HARRY POTTER MAGIC - AMAZON.CO.UK; THE RED CONSULTANCY
Not everyone queued up for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Twenty per cent of all copies sold on 21 June were ordered online at Amazon.co.uk.
The website generated these sales using a PR strategy to establish itself as the Harry Potter retail 'brain' by announcing that 30,000 pre-orders had been secured, together with statistics on the popularity of the boy wizard.
The team also developed stories using a global culture angle - for example, how the German Harry Potter is more serious than the French. The team also ran stories on real-life Harry Potters. A forty-nine per cent increase in internet traffic to the site was generated in the three weeks leading up to launch, driving sales.
The campaign generated two-and-a-half hours of broadcast coverage. Amazon was mentioned in 26 per cent of all Harry Potter national newspaper coverage.
Cyber Snooper Success
Nelson Bostock Communications
Digital Download Day
Finding the Real Brains in Britain
The Red Consultancy
Yahoo! Dump the Junk Day
Yahoo! UK and Ireland