CAMPAIGN: Colourful search for the world’s bluest sky

Last year, travel website Expedia ­rebranded to reflect a new set of customer values based on inspiration.

Winning blue sky: Anya Hohnbaum against the backdrop of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil
Winning blue sky: Anya Hohnbaum against the backdrop of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil

Campaign: Round the world in 72 days... to find the world’s best blue sky
PR team: The Red Consultancy
Timescale: March to July 2006
Budget: £100,000+

As part of its new image, the online shop ditched its plane logo and embraced a ‘blue skies’ device. Expedia charged retained agency The Red Consultancy with unveiling the new identity to consumers in the South-East, Scotland and Manchester.

To launch the blue skies brand with colourful imagery and in-depth messaging through targeted press coverage. To drive traffic to the website, generate involvement among users and create sales leads.

Having previously run a campaign for Expedia to find the world’s best beach, The Red Consultancy decided to discover the world’s ‘bluest’ blue sky. This was framed as a competition to recruit an individual ‘blue sky explorer’, to visit 20 global destinations in 72 days.

To attract entrants, the PR team sent information to target media, including Metro, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mirror and Evening Standard. Shopping centres, train stations, colleges and photographic outlets were sent leaflets and a campaign website – – was set up for Expedia users to vote for their 20 ­favourite blue sky destinations.

Anya Hohnbaum from Glasgow was picked from ten finalists and set off for a whistle-stop tour of the globe. The National Physical Laboratory was ­brought in to evaluate her findings.

Hohnbaum created daily content through diary reports and photo ­images for the let-yourself-go website. She was featured in editorial pieces in the national press, while Expedia aligned its advertising and CRM to the campaign.

In July 2006, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil won the world’s bluest sky award by ­recording the bluest blue on the day of Hohnbaum’s visit. Closer to home, Wales made the top ten and created news by beating destinations such as St Lucia in the Caribbean and the resort of Koh Samui in Thailand.

Coverage in The Times, Metro, Evening Standard and regional titles helped to kick-start the campaign.

The appointment of Hohnbaum created in-depth articles in the Daily Record, Sunday Times Scotland and the Glasgow Evening Times.

Overall the campaign scored 98 articles, with high-profile rankings of Hohnbaum’s results appearing in national newspapers and on BBC News Online, Travelbite, Talksport and Sky Radio News.

The competition attracted 3,000 applicants and 1.5 million hits to the campaign website, making it a key revenue driver for Expedia’s summer season.

As an integrated camapign, albeit PR-led, it is difficult for Expedia to break out results according to marketing discipline. However, the travel firm reports that overall, thousands of direct sales leads have been created.

Mike Swain, science and environment editor for the Daily Mirror, says the campaign was also of general interest to readers. ‘I remember it ­getting quite a bit of attention in a number of ­titles, so it seemed to work well,’ he says.

As well as the CIPR award, the campaign won a Sabre award in May.


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