Mike Hoban, Thomas Cook’s marketing director, told Campaign that the brand had doubled its Christmas booking-season adspend to £10 million, with three new ads featuring brand ambassador James Nesbitt. Hoban added that it was the first part of a "two-pronged attack", which also included spending £5 million on its first TV ad campaign for subsidiary brand Hotels4U.
News of the ads comes after Hoban told Campaign in October that Thomas Cook will "always be on TV".
The Thomas Cook spots featuring Nesbitt will air from 26 December. The three, light-hearted ads are the first to incorporate Thomas Cook’s new "sunny heart" visual identity, which was created by an internal team and unveiled in October. The ads aim to drive customers to Thomas Cook's revamped web, mobile and tablet sites.
Publicis London’s executive creative director Andy Bird created the ads, which were directed by Declan Lowney – who previously worked with Nesbitt on the TV show 'Cold Feet' – through HSI London. Thomas Cook dumped its incumbent ad agency, Havas London Worldwide, earlier this year. Hoban, who has been at Thomas Cook since October 2012, worked with Publicis London in his previous job at insurer Confused.com.
Hoban said that the new Thomas Cook campaign was "a continuation of our journey towards a resurgent Thomas Cook". In November, it was reported that the travel agent had posted its first full-year operating profit since 2010. For the year ending 30 September, Thomas Cook's operating profit was £13m.
The Hotels4U spots, meanwhile, are aimed at do-it-yourself holidaymakers. The ads were created by the freelance creative team Sian Vickers and Chris Wilkins, whose previous work includes Gio Compario ads for Gocompare.com and the Smash Martians. Graham Rose directed the spots.
The Hotels4U ads will air from 1 January and feature a couple called Danny and Poppy who are always planning holidays. All the ads follow the same narrative: Poppy constantly makes demands on the kind of break she wants and Danny cheerfully replies "anything for you, Cupcake."
The spots mark the first time that Hotels4U has advertised on TV and coincide with the company’s first re-brand since it was launched in 2006.
Carat handled the media planning and buying for both the Thomas Cook and Hotels4U campaigns.