Thomas Cook made huge cuts to its media spend in January and February across TV, radio, print and digital as the travel brand battles challenging business conditions on several fronts.
According to Nielsen Ad Dynamix figures, the brand’s TV spend in the first two months of 2019 was down 74% year on year, radio was down 50%, print down 83% and digital down 94% – although a spokeswoman for Thomas Cook said the last figure did not capture all Google spend.
The spokeswoman added: "We have reduced our marketing spend this year as we continue to streamline our cost base in what remains a competitive environment for holiday companies. Marketing remains an important part of our strategy to promote our own-brand hotels and differentiate Thomas Cook to new and existing customers.
"More than ever it is critical that we think innovatively to target the right audience, through the right channel at the right time. This was evidenced in our decision to go on TV in January for our Cook’s Club advert, when these younger customers are thinking about holidays, rather than during the traditional month of December."
That campaign was created by Albion and directed by Ben Wheatley through Moxie Pictures. Its TV slots focused on channels skewed towards younger audiences, such as ITV2 and E4.
Thomas Cook declined to comment on whether any planned media spend had been cancelled or whether the reductions were set to continue at a similar rate throughout the year.
Between May and December last year, Thomas Cook’s share price fell more than 80% to a six-year low, although it has since stabilised. In November the business reported a full-year after-tax loss of £163m in the year ending 30 September and scrapped its dividend to shareholders.
Calling the year "disappointing", Peter Fankhauser, chief executive of Thomas Cook Group, said its performance had been hit by a fall in bookings caused by the long hot summer in the UK and high levels of promotional activity on holidays to Spain.
Fankhauser added last month that some customers appeared to be putting off booking holidays because of Brexit. Thomas Cook said it was getting 800 views a day for a page on its site intended to reassure customers that their holidays will go ahead regardless of the Brexit outcome.
Meanwhile Jamie Queen, group marketing director at Thomas Cook, is set to depart at the end of April in a shake-up in which sales and e-commerce director Phil Gardner will also assume responsibility for marketing.
Thomas Cook’s spokeswoman said the restructure "brings marketing even closer to our tour operating and sales environment at a time when we need to accelerate the execution of our strategy".
Ingo Burmester has also left his role as managing director of Thomas Cook UK after less than a year to return to his home country of Germany. He has been replaced by Chris Mottershead, who was also Burmester's predecessor.