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CREATIVE STRATEGY: Expedia - a nice break from the usual travel stuff

Travel advertising. Should be a doddle, eh? It's a subject we all love. And its raw materials - photography and traveller's tales - should make for great visuals and copy. Why is so much of it so bad?

Expedia: avoids the usual the travel ad clichés

Expedia: avoids the usual the travel ad clichés

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Let’s break it down.

Many of the travel ads you see in the weekend supps haven’t been produced by agencies of note. And it shows. Why does that shot look as though it was taken by someone’s nephew with their phone? Because it was. Why is the copy barely literate? Same nephew.

Even bigger spenders get it wrong. For different reasons. The Arab Spring not only came as a surprise to the incumbent regimes, it caught out the tourism trade, too.

Egypt’s ads come from the bland, dreamy school of travel marketing. But suddenly they look like a sick joke. One headline reads: "Egypt. Where it all begins." Shouldn’t that be:  "Where it all kicks off?"  

Then along comes Tunisia’s current campaign. Has it divided the critics? Is there sand in the Sahara? First, let’s be clear, Tunisia depends on your tourist pound and euro. The stats: 6.5% of GDP; 50% of foreign exchange earnings; jobs for one in five Tunisians.  

And while the country has the triple appeal of sandy beaches, ancient sites and a short flight time from Western Europe, so do its Maghreb neighbours and, of course, Egypt.  Tunisia must advertise.

One ad depicts an apparently naked woman enjoying a massage, with the line: "They say that in Tunisia, some people receive heavy-handed treatment."

Witty and confident?  Or offensive to victims of torture and to a culture where women dress modestly? While you ponder that, check out the Expedia ads.

Unlike most travel advertisers, they have a proposition – don’t just take a city break, have the one you’d really like.

Headline and visual are neatly combined in a typographical treatment that stands out on posters and in the press. No swooshes. No multiple, multi-coloured logos. So, while it’s hardly the trip of a lifetime, Expedia is a refreshing break from the travel ad clichés.

Simon S Kershaw is a creative consultant and a former creative director at Craik Jones.

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