||Promotions Celebrate Those Willing to Just Get Up and Go
While not generally appreciated by bankers or crossing guards, impulsiveness is highly valued by marketers, who encourage spur-of-the-moment purchases.
And separate stunts last week by Heineken and Hilton Worldwide rewarded consumers for spontaneity with far-flung trips -- but only if they departed with little or no forethought.
On Tuesday, Heineken appeared in Terminal 8 of the Kennedy International Airport in Queens for "Departure Roulette," and asked travelers to abandon itineraries and instead leave for free trips to unknown destinations.
Greg Vosits, a doctoral student in educational psychology at the University of Connecticut, arrived at J.F.K. on Tuesday for a 5:15 p.m. flight to Vienna. Mr. Vosits, 25, who was born in Austria and moved to the United States when he was 8, was planning a six-week visit with his grandparents and extended family.
But Heineken changed his mind. "I had no idea where in the world I would be traveling," Mr. Vosits said. "I was definitely on the fence, but decided to go with the flow."
Mr. Vosits pushed the button on a game-show-worthy display and learned he would be headed to Cyprus on a 9:55 p.m. flight. Heineken booked him a hotel room for two nights and gave him $2,000 to cover expenses.
Although Heineken generally is awarding round-trip flights from J.F.K., for Mr. Vosits it arranged a flight from Cyprus to Vienna on Friday, and from Vienna back to New York on Aug. 25, when he had planned to return.
"I'm going to rent a scooter and go up and down the coast," said Mr. Vosits as he waited for his flight. "Hopefully I'll meet some pretty girls."
No stranger to the brand, Mr. Vosits said he once toured the Heineken brewery in Amsterdam. "But I prefer Beck's, actually," he said.
Heineken, which returned to J.F.K on Thursday, expected to send five to eight travelers to destinations like Reykjavik, Iceland, and Ulan Bator, Mongolia.
The stunt was part of a broader international advertising and marketing effort by Heineken that highlights travel and adventure, including a commercial, "The Voyage," about a traveler's misadventures at an outdoor celebration in India, and "Dropped," a Web series in which young men agree to depart for an unknown city and fish-out-of-water high jinks ensue.
The Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam office produced the commercial and Web series, while its New York office conceived and produced Departure Roulette, with Edelman handling public relations for Heineken.
Belen Pamukoff, a Heineken brand director, said that the overall approach was to appeal to men 25 to 34, what is often called the millennial generation, the primary target for the brand. Fifty-five percent of men who drink most often drink beer, compared with 23 percent of women. For wine, it is roughly the inverse, which is preferred by 52 percent of women and 20 percent of men, according to a 2012 Gallup poll.
"Millennial consumers want challenges, they want to be explorers," said Ms. Pamukoff. "We need to connect and be relevant and talk about their passion points, which are travel and music."
Heineken represents 14.8 percent of the imported beer market by sales volume and 2 percent of the overall beer market, according to the Beverage Information Group, which tracks the alcohol market. Heineken spent $76.8 million on advertising in the United States in 2012, according to Kantar Media, a unit of WPP.
Also last Thursday, Hilton HHonors, the loyalty program for Hilton Worldwide hotel brands, coordinated its own travel-related stunt, "Travel is Calling You," in Chicago. A golden rotary phone on a table in a pedestrian plaza rang intermittently, and some who answered were offered a weekend trip to Miami -- provided they could depart the next day and find a travel partner.
Chris Pagnozzi, a Chicago comedian, was on the other end of the line, and when participants accepted the offer, salsa dancers were set to perform and a pedicab pedaled the winners to a nearby AT&T store. There, they were to receive an iPad Mini as well as smaller beach-related gifts like flip-flops and a towel. Four winners and their guests were scheduled to fly on a chartered plane to Miami, where they would stay at Hilton Bentley Miami/South Beach with $1,000 in spending money.
Hilton declined to reveal the exact location of the promotion because its intention was to elicit spontaneous reactions rather than attract prize seekers. The stunt was conceived of and produced by Edelman, which also handles public relations for Hilton. Video of the event will be posted online on July 18.
As with Heineken, the Hilton HHonors stunt was tied to an annual summer promotion, called "Great Getaway," for all 10 Hilton Worldwide brands, which along with Hilton Hotels include Embassy Suites, Doubletree by Hilton, Waldorf-Astoria Hotels and Resorts and Hampton Inn. Hilton Worldwide spent a combined $69 million to advertise domestically in 2012, according to Kantar Media.
In conjunction with the Chicago stunt, Hilton is releasing results of a survey about travel-related spontaneity: 80 percent of respondents said that if offered a free weekend vacation that required leaving instantly, they would go.
Nancy Deck, vice president for full-service brand marketing for Hilton Worldwide, said the effort was meant to encourage travelers who may already take elaborate international trips to consider more seat-of-the-pants excursions.
"We're advocates for travel and travelers and we believe life is too short to plan just one annual vacation," Ms. Deck said. "We want to encourage people to enrich their lives and take several weekend getaways throughout the year."
(Source: The New York Times, 07/10/13)
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