Eurostar wants to return to its “challenger roots” with a “bold, exciting, refreshing” new campaign as it looks to move on from “generic” travel ads and focus more on the benefits of catching the train over flying.
The campaign, created by Engine, is a move away from its previous ads as it looks to “stand out” in the competitive travel market. The advertising kicks off today (9 September) with outdoor and digital activity, with TV planned for later in the year.
The star of the ad will be an ostrich, which will feature alongside the tagline, ‘You see more when you don’t fly’.
Speaking to Marketing Week, Eurostar’s customer engagement director Richard Sherwood, says: “We wanted it to be a departure from the tone of voice we have used in recent years.”
He adds: “[Our previous] campaigns have been very nice. They’ve done a really good job of reflecting our destination, but perhaps what they haven’t done is reflect the benefit you get when you travel on a Eurostar train. Like many travel campaigns it has the tendency to feel maybe a little bit generic.”
How do we get a campaign that helps us stand our from the crowd?
Richard Sherwood, Eurostar
The use of the ostrich aims to tap into the idea that travelling by train can be better than flying. In the upcoming TV spots, the bird will be seen visiting Eurostar destinations such as Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels.
“When you travel with Eurostar, you’re choosing not to travel by airline or car or shuttle. We wanted to choose an animal that has flight built into its DNA but has rejected the idea,” says Sherwood.
The campaign aims to convey the idea that travelling by train can be as enjoyable a part of a trip as the destination. With that in mind, the campaign will also highlight “the enjoyableness of the trip, the ease and speed”.
“What we hear from our customers – whether that’s down at the station, on board or through research – is what is different about Eurostar is your holiday starts the moment you board the train. The transport is not a means to an end, it isn’t the way to get to Paris or Amsterdam or Brussels, it’s an important part of your holiday,” Sherwood says.
There would also seem to be an environmental benefit to travelling by train over flying in particular. Eurostar generates 90% less carbon emissions in a trip to Paris than flying, and admits “it is something we could talk more largely about” although that isn’t the plan with this campaign.
Why every brand should be a challenger
Sherwood joined Eurostar just seven months ago, with his first challenge to create marketing that “gets us to stand our from the crowd”.
The marketing team looked to the brand’s archives to create a campaign that balanced the playfulness of a challenger brand and the stylishness of Europe. While it is initially launching in the UK, it will be expanded to France and the Netherlands later this year.
Sherwood explains: “We went back 25 years, to 1994, when you could have looked at us as a challenger brand. We wanted to harness that challenger brand mentality and [make] this campaign feel bold exciting, refreshing and playful because playful has been a part of our heritage.
“However, [we wanted to] still be true to our brand, which is European and stylish.”
It is not just the tone of voice that Sherwood admires about challenger brands. He also thinks they encourage brands to be bolder and push the boundaries of what is possible in terms of customer experience.
“They encourage you to do more as an organisation in service of your customer and encourage you to be at the top of your game, but at the same time it translates very well to strong marketing communicating,” he explains.
He also acknowledges that boldness can be lost as a brand becomes more established. “We have lost a bit of that in our marketing communications and potentially in other parts of our offer,” he explains.
He adds: “What you get with a challenger mentality is a boldness, a bravery and a level of energy and excitement.”