Media: Strategy Analysis - Lastminute living for the modern age

Brand: Lastminute.com
Client: Mat Hart, marketing director, Lastminute.com
Brief: Create deeper engagement with the Lastminute.com brand using the
idea of "living every last minute"
Target audience: Defined by attitude more than by demographics: young at
heart, with a passion for getting the most out of life, and with "early
mainstream"techno-tendencies
Budget: Approx. £30,000 (book)

AGENCIES
Strategy: Branded
Book: Branded, The Joined Up Company, Mark McCallum
Microsite: Burn, Branded
Films and videoblogs: Huge, Branded
Media: Smarter
Creative: Big Al's Creative Emporium (offline), Burn (online)

STRATEGY

The diverse range of leisure-time products sold by Lastminute.com - holidays, flights, sports and theatre tickets, and gifts in the UK - allowed the company to develop a unique positioning among its loyal customers as a complete "leisure-time enabler".

However, as the online travel and leisure markets have boomed over recent years, so Lastminute.com has grown to attract more mainstream customers each year.

While its loyal "early adopter" customers already know the brand and its products well, these new "early mainstream" customers lack that same brand familiarity and brand engagement.

Research showed that many of us believe today's technology is simultaneously a good thing and a threat to our potential happiness. It also revealed another insight that underpins the "lastminute living" idea - that people are increasingly concerned with what they can put into their memory bank, rather than their money bank.

Another finding was that there was a low level of awareness and engagement with Lastminute.com's full range of products. Lastminute.com required a more emotional brand idea that could span its entire product range - beyond just travel products - to engage new customers with the brand.

EXECUTION

- Book: At the heart of the campaign was a book titled Lastminute Living.

It built on the inspirations and insights revealed by research to paint a picture of modern-day life and how to make the most of it.

Aimed at people with the "lastminute living" attitude - "memory bankers" rather than "money bankers" - it revealed how the smartest people are controlling technology to get the most out of their lives. And it went on to identify "six rules for smarter living" that we can all follow to make technology work for us, rather than becoming slaves to it. The book was made available initially via the interactive TV red button, the website, and in downloadable PDF format.

- Microsite: A campaign microsite, lastminute.com/life, contained celebrity videoblogs from Kate Thornton, Max Beesley and Christian Slater, a customer videoblog competition, a blogging site and five mini-documentaries that expanded on the "rules for smarter living".

- TV: The TV advertising featured the story of one man's amazing life.

- Outdoor: Posters - "Life. Book now" - implored everyone to do a little more "lastminute living". The new brand endline, "live every lastminute.com", encapsulated the core idea.

Recent extensions to the campaign have included a "live" interactive poster, on to which people are encouraged to graffiti their own comments about how they would spend their last minute.

RESULTS

About 50,000 copies of the book have been distributed so far via red button, sampling and the microsite. The book has been downloaded as a PDF 17,607 times, making a total circulation to date of 67,607.

The microsite has delivered more than 56,000 unique visitors in 12 weeks, of whom 41,000 have clicked to view the online TV ad.

THE VERDICT - Verica Djurdjevic group strategy director, Mediaedge:cia

When the lights went down on the last heady days of the dotcom boom, only a handful of early players remained - and, of those, Lastminute.com is one of the few that anyone remembers. Almost a decade on, hundreds of sites are doing the travel stuff - but Lastminute.com still appears to be one step ahead, both in terms of product and of strategy.

This strategy has all the right stuff. It had two strengths at the outset: a client who was brave enough to go for an idea and a research proposal, rather than an ad campaign, and some genuine insights generated by the research. But the real genius lies in how insights were used to create the "lastminute living" platform, which allows the brand enormous scope to expand beyond bums-on-seats travel and gives it a point of view on the world.

The book is the highlight of the campaign, and is a really smart piece of content; it even has a user guide to help you get the best from it if you're short of time. The language and tone are spot-on for the brand - contemporary and accessible, despite the fact it's dealing with some pretty mind-bending themes and innovations (a Microsoft electronic mirror, anyone?).

The other campaign elements all tie in to the "lastminute living" platform, and there are loads of opportunities for engagement with the brand. The microsite is slick and has plenty of content to while away a lunch hour or two, and the interactive poster really brings the idea to life, rather than being a gimmick. It will be interesting to see how the user-generated content shapes the campaign as it progresses.

The results are impressive at this early stage, so it seems churlish to quibble, but, as always in this column, there is one question-mark over the strategy. Given that the target audience is early mainstream and much broader than Lastminute.

com's user base, it may have missed a trick in not finding a broader offline distribution route to get the book into the hands of more potential users. The book could be a Trojan horse to make the brand relevant to a much bigger audience.

The only other minor question is about Kate Thornton being one of the "celebrity bloggers", but that's a whole different column ...

Score: 4 out of 5.

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