Still in post-production, our work as Orbitz’ LGBT Agency was featured as part of their overall new brand message in Stuart Elliot’s Media Decoder today.

We can’t wait to show you the great spots featuring Miss Richfield 1981!

May 4, 2012, 3:12 PM

In New Ad Campaign, Orbitz Comes Out as Pro-Vacation

By STUART ELLIOTT
An Orbitz flag is part of a new campaign, "Take Vacation Back."An Orbitz flag is part of a new campaign, “Take Vacation Back.”

Orbitz wants to plant a flag, literally and figuratively, as an advocate for leisure travel and taking vacations.

In a big campaign that is to begin on Monday, Orbitz will urge consumers to “Take vacation back.” The television, print, online, social and other ads will feature a device of an oversize flag bearing the Orbitz logo.

In a television commercial meant to serve as an anthem for the campaign, consumers utter phrases that together form a manifesto: “We the people … will take our vacation days … all of them … and we will book our next trip before this one ends.”

In one vignette, an older woman seated poolside at a resort offers her own sly declaration: “We will turn the pool boy into a pool man.”

The “Take vacation back” theme will also appear in ads that Orbitz aims at the L.G.B.T. market, as in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. Those ads will feature a drag artist named Ms. Richfield 1981. Orbitz was one of the pioneers among dot-coms in marketing to L.G.B.T. consumers.

A new ad for Orbitz features a drag artist named Ms. Richfield 1981.A new ad for Orbitz features a drag artist named Ms. Richfield 1981.

And ads aimed at the general market will also continue a recent Orbitz innovation of including L.G.B.T. characters amid the mainstream characters. For instance, in the anthem TV spot, a golfer is wearing a hat bearing the equal-sign logo of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization.

The idea is to bring some emotion back into the online travel category, Orbitz executives say, as a way to differentiate Orbitz from competitors like Expedia and Travelocity and speak about something other than price. The most recent campaign for Orbitz had a rational theme, “When you Orbitz, you know.”

The concept of Orbitz’s helping to provide “an even better trip than you thought possible” seemed “like some white space” in the category, said Marie LaPlante, senior director for brand marketing at Orbitz.

“We want to capture the voice of the vacationer,” she added, which works because Orbitz is predominantly in the leisure-travel field.

The headline of a print ad reads, “Give us your pale, your pasty, your margarita-lacking masses.”

After all, said Christopher K. Orton, president at Orbitz.com and its Cheaptickets.com unit, “There’s nobody who’s against vacations.”

“Reminding people how great it is” to take a vacation is “a message that it’s time for,” he added, as consumers shift to more spending from an austerity mode.

In conjunction with the campaign, Orbitz is redesigning its Web site, orbitz.com, to make it easier to navigate.

The campaign will include discount coupons and an online vacation tool kit, offering “a countdown widget” to your next vacation, “down to the second,” Ms. LaPlante said, along with vacation music play lists and “tongue-in-cheek messages for out-of-office e-mail and signs for your cube.”

As Orbitz brings out the “Take vacation back” campaign, the Las Vegas tourism campaign that uses the theme “Only Las Vegas” is starting to introduce ads that carry the headline “Take back your summer.”

Marita Hudson Thomas, a spokeswoman at Orbitz, said executives at her company “weren’t at all aware of the Las Vegas campaign.” The Las Vegas ads turned up on Friday morning during ABC’s “Good Morning America,” held up by people standing outside the studio in Times Square.

The agencies working on the Orbitz campaign include BBDO New York, the creative agency of record, which is part of the BBDO Worldwide division of the Omnicom Group, and Optimedia, part of the Publicis Groupe, for media placement.

The budget for the campaign will be “flat or up” compared with what Orbitz spent last year, Mr. Orton said, declining to be specific. According to the Kantar Media unit of WPP, Orbitz spent $21.7 million to advertise in major media in 2011, compared with $36.1 million in 2010 and $36.6 million in 2009.


Stuart Elliott has been the advertising columnist at The New York Times since 1991. Follow @stuartenyt on Twitter and sign up for In Advertising, his weekly e-mail newsletter by clicking here.