Thomas Cook adds congestion charge to reasons to leave

TBWA/London is building on Thomas Cook's "It's time to leave the country" theme with new work aiming to capitalise on the disruption the congestion charge will bring to Londoners.

The campaign breaks on 17 February, the day the congestion charge kicks in. It will target those living in the capital by appearing on London bus-sides.

It uses the strapline: "The average traffic speed in London is 9.7mph" and the campaign endline: "It's time to leave the country." The creative will appear on 50 London buses until the end of February.

Kate Knowles, the head of marketing at Thomas Cook, said: "The bus-side campaign is a humorous take on what the average speed of traffic in London is anticipated to slow to once the congestion charge is introduced next week."

"Many people are sceptical as to whether the congestion charge will achieve its aim of reducing traffic problems in London and are concerned about the impact it will have on their pockets," she added.

Brian Campbell, the art director on the ad, said: "We had this idea sitting in a cab, stuck in traffic. Anyone who has ever driven in London will relate to it."

The ads were created by Ben Priest and Campbell. Media planning and buying is through BLM.

Thomas Cook has been running the "It's time to leave the country" campaign for two years. The creative highlights reasons people in Britain might want to leave the country to go on holiday.

Earlier this month, Thomas Cook's chief executive, Alan Stewart left the company as a result of changes by the company's German owner. He was replaced by the managing director, Manny Fontenla-Novoa.