Holiday Inn’s Digital-Only Approach Has Generated 175 Million Video Views So Far

Instagram also has been a key driver

Headshot of Christopher Heine

Holiday Inn is three months into its first digital-only campaign, dubbed Journey to Extraordinary, and the brand doesn't appear to have any regrets.

"Over a hundred million views of our video content, which means that we're seeing the content reach the people who matter most," said Maurice Cooper, vp of Americas for Holiday Inn at InterContinental Hotels Group.

His brand is partnering with Tumblr, Nonfiction Unlimited, International New York Times, Mashable and MBAs Across America for effort that runs through November. The marketing push also involves Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and Cooper has an interesting take on what platform inspires the best kind of consumer chatter (more on that below). A WPP agency team comprised of Ogilvy, Possible, Hill+Knowlton and Mindshare collaborated with the brand to create "Journey to Extraordinary."

The Holiday Inn team brought on a couple photo-bloggers to generate content, while also focusing on a mix of paid and consumer-told narratives via video and social media. One example of consumer-based stories: Holiday Inn customer Majora Carter spoke about how she escaped a crime-ridden Bronx neighborhood decades ago as a high school graduate but returned years later to help rebuild her community. (Scroll down to watch the 3-minute, 43-second clip.)

Below are a few of specific stats from the brand campaign so far.

  • 175.3 million total video views from pre-roll and long form—mostly coming via YouTube, Set.TV and travel site Sojern.
  • A Tumblr reach of 19.2 million consumers.
  • More than 200,000 likes of #JourneyOnContest photoblogger content to date.

Cooper recently reflected on the results.

Outside the big view number, why else do you feel positive about going digital-only?

Engagement, which has been really, really strong. When we think about engagement, it’s people sharing the content, talking about the content and engaging with the content—and we’ve seen the brand exceed industry benchmarks. And then lastly, we think about sentiment. … We want people to walk away, clearly understanding who we really are. And we’ve seen positive statistically significant shifts in brand sentiment as a result of this campaign so far.

Can you explain the origin of the decision a little more?

The rationale behind [digital-only] is two-fold. One, we obviously live in a world where digital platforms are becoming more important every day, and it’s a way in which we can reach guests of really all demographic backgrounds in a more targeted way. And the way that we’re able to see the engagement numbers that I talked about and the reach that I talked about is that we’re placing the right message in front of the right people at the right time.

Maurice Cooper

There has been an emphasis on Tumblr and Instagram. Is this campaign more Gen Y targeted than past endeavors?

Yeah, we definitely care about millennials, but we care about all of our guests. And one of the things that we have been really, really pleased with is leveraging platforms like Instagram and Tumblr, which let us drive higher engagement. We know that Instagram, as an example, drives materially more engagement than what you would see with Facebook and even with Twitter. … A platform like Instagram allows for them to be able to do so in a beautiful way and a very personal way.

How has mobile fit in?

Mobile is a key cornerstone to any strong digital campaign. We know obviously about the rise of smartphones and how accessible [information] is for our guests on a regular basis. When we’re talking about delivering this message of change on Holiday Inn to our guests, we want to be able to deliver it in context at the right time. And so mobile absolutely is a huge part of our strategy, and frankly it’s where we get a lot of our success of our engagement.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.