Oyster creative inspired by design legend Saul Bass, glamorises travel and moves away from traditional commoditised ad conventions

Oyster Partners launches the first major online advertising campaign for Thomascook.com. The campaign glamorises travel, challenging the commoditised and traditional conventions of online travel advertising. With a creative concept inspired by Saul Bass, the campaign includes seven different executions focusing on specific travel audiences with targeted travel products. Oyster’s detailed communications strategy sees the online adverts appear on targeted sections of Yahoo!, Wanadoo, Lycos and Teletext Holidays and the Claria Network, alongside a wide range of niche sites.

“The advertising creative supports our recent re-launch of thomascook.com, and is a dramatic departure from previous campaigns,” says Claire Hunt, Planning Director at Oyster Partners, She continues, “The advertising campaign challenges the commoditised conventions of the travel sector, showing the consumer that there is more to travel than price, by returning to the glamour and thrill of going away. The advertising celebrates Thomas Cook’s travel heritage but challenges preconceptions of what the brand offers.”

The creative is inspired by Saul Bass, the legendary artist renowned for his opening credits on Hitchcock films such as ‘Vertigo’ which was also celebrated in the opening credits for the film ‘Catch Me If You Can.’ A consistent creative concept is enhanced with a graphic-rich and illustrative artwork: moving the campaign into a creative territory largely ignored by the majority of the travel industry.

The campaign communicates a series of offers focusing on a wide range of categories: appealing to Thomas Cook’s traditional, loyal audiences, whilst attracting web-savvy online travel buyers with new targeted product categories. These include the more traditional sectors such as summer package holidays for families, ski breaks and winter sun destinations, but also travel offers not usually associated with Thomas Cook for long haul destinations appealing to more independent world travellers. Critically, the campaigns promote Thomas Cook’s ability to provide a wide range of travel components – flights, accommodation, car hire – which appeal to the modern traveller who wants to plan their own trip.

The campaign follows Oyster’s successful re-design of the Thomas Cook website, which has already beaten all conversion targets in its first phase. Thomas Cook’s significant investment in online media is expected to yield a significant growth in sales online.

Oyster’s research and insight into the travel audience during the website development (examining browsing habits, research and propensity to buy), informed the campaign, creative and broader communications strategy.

According to Deborah Keay, Marketing Services Director at Oyster Partners, the substantial investment in online advertising reflects the growing importance of the 'independent' holiday market. She explains: “In 2004, Mintel estimates that over 50% of all holidays are now booked independently, with customers selecting their own flights, accommodation, car hire and other needs through a number of different travel services. TGI mapping against audience segments, cross-referenced with our own in-depth research, has allowed us to match product and promotion to a clearly defined audience: ensuring the campaign is delivered through carefully targeted media”.

Thomas Cook appointed Oyster Partners in 2004, following a four way pitch.

Editor’s notes

About Oyster Partners

Founded in 1992, Oyster Partners specialises in the development of interactive channels and customer communications programmes at all digital touch-points. The team design and develop innovative interactive experiences that meet business objectives and provide strategic marketing communications planning and creative delivery to drive customer value and insight.

Oyster Partners work direct with their clients to maximise ROI via interactive channels; and with their client’s ‘above and below the line’ agencies to integrate communications planning for maximum business benefit.

A current list of Oyster Partners’ clients is available online.



Katy Howell
0845 408 2031

Published on: 12:00AM on 4th February 2005