The genius of Trivago

No campaign has received more industry attention this summer than Trivago’s. Their recent poster crusade of London has been ridiculed for its strange and repetitive placements and its uninspiring design. Those who worked on the campaign have even had their professional commitment brought into question.

However, beneath the negative press lies an uncomfortable truth for the ad world.

The Trivago campaign has worked.

As a result of the campaign, Trivago’s brand awareness in London rose by a remarkable 15% from 27% to 42% at its peak [Source: YouGov].

Was that Trivago’s main marketing objective? Almost certainly.

Skeptics will point towards brand perception. By being so freakishly ubiquitous, surely we can assume that sentiment towards the brand is at an all-time low.

That’s actually not true. As the campaign rolled out, opinion towards the brand in London remained unchanged [Source: YouGov]. Trivago would have welcomed a positive shift in brand perception. However, I doubt it was a significant aim. I’d even argue that a consistent level of sentiment can be considered a success considering the nature of the campaign.

Given the actual success of the Trivago campaign, it’s strange that the industry hasn’t acknowledged it as an example of effective marketing. The reason for this is the campaign’s creative, which is utterly unremarkable. Advertising craft was completely bypassed as the tool for achieving the brand’s objectives. There’s not a pun or a hashtag in sight, just a women in a blue shirt, one line of copy and a logo.

Instead, Trivago opted for a media strategy that made their advert ridiculously omnipresent. The genius of the campaign is that it is ridiculous.

A row of five identical posters is not only irrational but weird. If anyone were to see that 10 times in the space of one commute then they’d have to take notice. Some marketeers scoff at the absurdity of it all. However, in a world of routine and order, why does marketing have to be rational? Being strange is a fantastic way of grabbing people’s attention, particularly the commuters of London whose behaviour is so regimented. Trivago broke the rules of conventional tube advertising and it worked.

Of course a beautifully crafted advert could have been as effective and cost a lot less money. However, if you can afford to implement an extravagant media strategy, why take the risk on doing something normal? A normal advertising campaign doesn’t guarantee success. Doing something interesting in the real world has a much higher chance of being effective.

What happens now? An entire tube station canvassed by one brand? A TV ad break that rolls the same advert back to back six times?

I for one am looking forward to what’s next. Marketing is an arms race. Trivago broke the rules and were rewarded. It’s up to everyone else to adapt.

Vaughan Edmonds is Senior Account Executive at Sense.

This article was published in Cream Global.

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