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Ebookers.com signs Blessed for launch of first TV drive

LONDON - Online travel agency ebookers.com is launching its first television advertising campaign, featuring Brian Blessed, as part of a £6m brand push that takes the viewer on a whirlwind tour of some of the world's landmark.

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Called "The Greatest Show is Earth", the campaign breaks on Christmas Day and will run for 12 weeks. The push includes all major terrestrial and satellite television channels and is designed to coincide with the travel industry's traditionally busiest booking period.

The integrated campaign also includes posters on London Undergound, a direct marketing push, online banner advertising and a viral email campaign.

The launch of the campaign comes weeks after the departure of ebookers marketing director Colin Whaley, who left the company after less than a year in the job to become sales and marketing director of Center Parcs UK.

Whaley was replaced by Chris Sherlock, head of the firm's carbookers operation, who became ebookers' UK group head of marketing.

The new "Greatest Show is Earth'" TV campaign includes 60- and 30-second spots, introduced by the voice of British acting institution, Brian Blessed, RSC actor and star of such movies as 'Flash Gordon' and 'Henry V'.

The viewer is transported from a Moulin Rouge-style theatre scene on a seamless whirlwind tour of some of the world's landmark tourist destinations, including New York, Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, South Africa, Dubai and Thailand. Original music was especially composed by Oliver Davis.

According to Sherlock, the new campaign will reinforce ebookers.com's position as specialists in mid- and long-haul travel.

"In contrast to other online travel companies, ebookers.com is focused on providing the best possible service for Britain's growing army of long-haul explorers, providing the best flight offers and tailor-made packages. The campaign reflects the company's knowledge and expertise on all things travel and positions us as the specialists who were 'Born to Travel' -- our brand positioning statement," he said.

The campaign was created by Smarter Communications, which was appointed as the creative and media buying agency for the campaign earlier this year.

The campaign is the first of a number of new initiatives that ebookers plans to introduce in the New Year, the other most prominent being its appointment as the exclusive online travel agent in the Nectar loyalty scheme.

The campaign is launched two weeks after ebookers was bought by US internet travel firm Cendant for $404.3m. Cendant also acquired privately held British travel wholesaler Gullivers Travel Associates for $1.1bn.

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