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A sound to lure us to the sunshine

Posted by Dan Lafferty - Director of Music and Voice at PHMG on

Even before the decorations come down, the first of the summer holiday adverts has hit our screens. Our collective desire to beat the January blues makes this month one of the busiest for bookings – which inspired us to take a look at how music plays a key role in creating the most inspirational travel ad.

Summer holiday adverts have become much more than just enticing images of beaches, blue waters and sunshine – they tell a story that fills viewers with wanderlust and compels us to book that flight. Many brands achieve this result by putting people at the centre of the message, focusing on how a holiday is a time to do things your way – no matter what age you are. Thomas Cook debuted two new adverts during the festive period, one featuring a young armband-wearing girl’s confident first strut towards the water, and the second following a couple’s return to youth as they chase each other through one of the company’s adult-only hotels. They’re tied together by the homecoming of the brand’s strapline ‘Don’t just book it, Thomas Cook it’ – it’s first use since 2013. It signals their strategy of making holiday booking more of a personalised experience, rather than just a transactional process. The campaign shows people having the confidence to put themselves first – just as Thomas Cook professes to do for their customers.

The two adverts are also alike in their use of music, which has become a key factor in this genre of advertising. Music and travel have long since gone hand-in-hand – whether it’s the summer songs that seem to follow you throughout your break (and transport you back there years later), your go-to beach playlist, or the road trip anthems that become the soundtrack to your exploration. Therefore, it’s only fitting for these soundtracks to take centre stage in a campaign. This year, First Choice have chosen to go ‘Mahoosive’ with their music, featuring the first ever rapping family lyricising the benefits of an all-inclusive holiday. In a bid to stand out in this highly competitive market, the brand uses bold lyrics like “we’re the maestros of all you can eat” and “we’ve got all the frills without the sneaky bills.” By favouring rap over any other genre – and by choosing a family as the performers – First Choice injects all the confidence and swagger of this style of music, but also maintains the light-hearted, family feel they seek to promote.

First Choice weren’t the only company to really make the most of music in their summer holiday campaign. The newly re-branded Tui (formally Thomson) recently rolled out a multi-million pound musical-inspired campaign set to Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain’t Nobody Loves You Better’. In a style reminiscent of the box office smash ‘La La Land’, the starring female is seen being doted on and cared for by over 100 Tui staff, which all seeks to reinforce and celebrate their line – ‘at Tui, we cross the T’s, dot the I’s and put U in the middle’. And it’s not a phenomenon exclusive to the UK companies. Last year, Expedia launched a feature on US TV showcasing how travel broadens the mind. While the moving voiceover took centre stage, it was the subtle, building track that really added the heart to the piece – and really inspired viewers to take their next trip.

A summer holiday is a purchase of wish fulfilment – it’s a time of escape, a time idealised in the mind of the traveller, and a time associated with making memories that last a lifetime. Therefore, ads represent a hugely emotional sell, and one of the most effective ways of creating this emotion is with music. This is something that’s not just limited to holiday companies. Music reveals a lot about brand personality, so when used in the right way, can increase sales, customer retention and brand loyalty. And even better is when the music is unique to the brand, just like First Choice’s bold all-inclusive rap – which is set to be one of the most memorable travel campaigns of 2018.

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