Holiday Inn - Where's Your Big Idea?

Holiday Inn just launched a new brand marketing campaign on the theme of Change Your View, with a video entitled Change Your View - Changing Perceptions
(note: Holiday Inn has taken the video down, I'm afraid...)

According to USA Today, Holiday Inn suffers from irrelevance with younger consumers - the brand perception seems to be that it’s grandma and grandpa’s hotel. So Holiday Inn did what they should have done - they created a brand marketing campaign to try and change those perceptions.


The video features lots of young, good-looking people in all sorts of travel configurations. Business, solo, eating, working, playing... It looks great. Well produced. Great looking spot. And yet I’ve watched this video a few times now and I have no emotional understanding of what the brand stands for – where is the Big Idea? If you came away with a sense of it, please - let me know. Because to me, this is all about value propositions - amenities I look for in a hotel. In fact, I would argue that I don't even see a customer benefit - how does this video express how Holiday Inn solves any actual problems that the customer's have? Holiday Inn doesn't commit and I'm not sure why. But that just underscores the fact that, aside from Holiday Inn suggesting that I should change my perception, they give me no reason WHY I should do so. There is no Big Idea behind this brand marketing video and that's incredibly unfortunate since it's a brand marketing piece that should be communicating a Big Idea.


Holiday Inn touts its innovative history in the spot – which apparently was a big deal at the time. Possibly innovative. They talk about how they changed how people conceive of what a hotel could be. I guess. Except there's  no contextualization provided for what that was; and, more importantly, how that fits into a larger corporate narrative of why their approach to travel lodgings ultimately matters.  I would argue that this campaign is, at its core, a trust-build. Holiday Inn chose to prove their innovative history as a way of saying, "hey, trust that we're still innovating today. Come stay with us and let us show you!" Which is a smart strategy for an iconic brand - trade on past success as a way of indicating future progress. But then why wouldn't you tell your customers how changing the way people conceive of travel is an expression of their brand philosophy?! Same goes for commitment to innovation, and for everything else. Saying that you’ve done this work is one thing... But sharing why you’ve done it - why you HAD to do it because its part of who you are – that’s the brand piece that will build the trust you need because you'll be telling your customer WHY they should trust you now.


This is a big challenge that Holiday Inn faces, for sure. They’re kind-of a budget hotel, but there are cheaper options (including their sister corp Holiday Inn Express). They’re kind of a medium-service hotel, but then there are lots of competitors in that space (including other brands owned by IHG). At the end of the day, the narrator asks me to change my view – but to what? What am I supposed to think about Holiday Inn after watching this? That they’re innovative? That they’re comfortable? That they’re all things to all people? That I should trust them to take care of me? I just don't get how they could make this piece without telling people what their new view should be. Because, at the end of the day, isn't that what branding is all about? Expressing to your customer what it is your company stands for and why it matters?!

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a note and let me know!

advertising, branding, marketing