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Live the InterContinental Life

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Insight

InterContinental Hotel & Resorts' target audience is the Affluent Experienced Travellers (AETs) who are aged between 35 – 54 years old. They travel long haul and internationally at least 4 – 6 times per annum for business and leisure. 

Two key insights informed the campaign strategy:

Insight #1: Consumer research that was conducted across eight key markets with target customers, confirmed that they have a positive sentiment towards the brand that was waiting to be harnessed and released. They knew the inherent strengths of the brand, such as being worldly, and had positive recall of the special experiences in the hotels. 

Insight #2: There had been no cohesive voice of the brand in key markets, with no global activity and many markets executing locally for the past three years. By analysing the InterContinental brand’s consumer travel data, Mindshare found that up to 50% of hotel revenue was generated internationally vs. staying in their domestic market. Consumers were being exposed to different messages in and across markets and sometimes were not seeing the brand enough (the brand had been under-invested in the US for the past three years). 

The agency faced two interlinked challenges. The brand needed to reassert itself by appealing to its customers’ sense of worldliness through the InterContinental life but customers were not exposed to a consistent message whilst travelling to build that emotional brand engagement with InterContinental Hotels & Resorts and drive awareness and consideration. 

Strategy

The agency launched a new creative brand platform bringing the allure of international travel back to the category and portraying an aspirational but attainable lifestyle that was branded the InterContinental life.

Given its audience was travelling in and out of regions, Mindshare had to ensure it engaged them consistently with the messaging, to bring the idea of living the InterContinental life to fruition. 

It created two phases for the strategy – first, it engaged the target audience with a shared travel philosophy of how luxury travel should be, then created deeper engagement by sharing what the InterContinental life stands for through compelling storytelling. 

The best place to show its AETs the brand's shared travel philosophy was when they started their travel journey. To do this the agency chose gateway airports based on their key travel routes and used stature OOH media in key locations as they travelled through to boarding their plane. Once they were up in the air, it reminded the AETs of the InterContinental life through a captivating film on in-flight media.

While the audience were not crossing borders, Mindshare showcased the InterContinental life through storytelling; utilising different media to immerse the audience’s senses.  Videos, podcasts and animated illustrations told stories that captured brand values and the emotions that the audience wants to feel when they travel. 

This was the first time that it launched a campaign linked in a data-driven manner to commercial headroom based on the AETs' global travel flows, for communications to resonate highest.

Execution

Phase One would raise brand awareness, engaging high value affluent experienced travellers with a shared philosophy on how luxury travel should be. The agency delivered the message during a key commercial period using stature media placements at four international gateway airports – Dubai, London Heathrow, New York JFK & Shanghai Pudong; it extended this through inflight media on American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific & Emirates.

Phase Two would drive further brand consideration and preference through an immersive multi-sensory journey via a collection of stories about the InterContinental life to create a deeper and more emotive understanding of the brand. Media consumption of the AET’s differed greatly by region, thus the agency tailored its communications accordingly.  

In the AMEA (Asia, Middle East & Africa) region, Mindshare developed content partnerships, leveraging the editorial influence of the BBC and Fairfax to create additional stories.  This activity was amplified through programmatic and social channels.  

In the Americas region, it created a partnership with Conde Nast that delivered videos of intrigue and visual allure as well as memorable sound (podcasts); this activity was amplified through programmatic and social channels.  

In Europe, it focussed on the programmatic distribution of premium video, audio and image-led content; using a vast array of data techniques to digitally target this content to the right audience at the right time.  

In Greater China, it focussed the delivery of the stories through compelling video content, distributed using both Online TV Broadcasters and specialist mobile providers that could reach this affluent audience. 

Results

BDRC, an independent research company, verified the following results; with the InterContinental brand exceeding targets in multiple categories globally. 

- Uplift in Brand Awareness from 71% to 74% (+4 PPTs)

- Uplift in Serious Consideration from 35% to 41% (+6 PPTs)

- Uplift in 1st / 2nd Choice Preference from 11% to 16% (+5 PPTs)

Source: BDRC Independent Research Study (September 2016)

In the US, this campaign was in the top 10% for driving awareness and the top 20% for driving consideration, when compared to all the campaigns that Millward Brown has tracked in the last three years. 

In addition, InterContinental ranked third in the KPMG Nunwood 2017 US Customer Experience Excellence Analysis, recognised as one of the transformation brands, moving up 64 places in the last 12 months.  

InterContinental was also used as the lead reference in a global article published by The Atlantic, entitled “Selling what they preach”, detailing brands held in high regard when it comes to the sphere of storytelling.

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