This year’s efforts have been notable for their high production values, says marketing expert Steve Dunne, chief executive of Digital Drums.

Podcast: Turn-of-year TV travel ads reviewed

Tourism Australia


Tourist boards have never been the segment of the travel sector that tradionally produce outstanding TV ads. Mostly their offerings have a standard template of beaches, landscapes, city skylines, chefs, waterfalls, people eating and characters in national dress.

So, Tourism Australia’s offering, aimed at the Brexit-weary UK consumer, is a refreshing, memorable and enjoyable change.

The “Matesong” featuring Kylie Minogue, is an all song advert that features famous Australians including Shane Warne, Ian Thorpe and Adam Hills. It’s full of humour and fun as well as the standard impressive landscape and cultural scenes.

But, in this age of social media adversarial tribalism it’s the emphasis of all being on the same side and having things in common (language, curry, fish and chips) while simultaneously offering incredibly different experiences that really resonates.

Clearly, there were big bucks invested in this but it inspires, it is memorable and it stands out from everything else around.

It’s a classic and it’s a winner

5 out of 5

 *Tourism Australia has since said some of campaign activity had been paused in light of the bush fires affecting large parts of the country.

Royal Caribbean

One Family, One Holiday

It’s been a while since Royal Caribbean has advertised on UK TV but what a return to the small screen this year’s offering is.

I spent Christmas and New Year with a house full of millennials and their children and one of the most striking things for me was that the Royal Caribbean offering was the only travel advert that they all unanimously responded to in a positive way.

The advert, with the tag line “One Family, One Holiday”, is fast paced with the emphasis on fun and activity as families of all ages and outlooks enjoy time together. And, except for the closing shot, there isn’t a ship in sight, a brave move that undoubtedly pays off.

If families and millennials are the market demographic the brand is pursuing then this advert hits home, resonating in a way I saw few others do. As one millennial mum said to me on seeing the advert: “Now this makes me really excited about having a holiday.”

5 out of 5

Exodus Travels

Your Guide to The World

The most striking thing about the Exodus Travels TV advert is that it gives you a real visual feel for what an Exodus holiday is all about. Through striking imagery of some of the most stunning landscapes and experiences and with a compelling voiceover narrating what Exodus offers, is perhaps one of the most effective adverts produced in the travel sector.

Its production values are second to none, targeting is crystal clear (“Tell dinner party stories”) and the strap line – “Your Guide to The World” acts as both a distinctive position statement for the brand and a brilliant call to action.

It’s travel advertising at its best.

5 out of 5

MSC cruises

The Sea at its Most Welcoming

With very high production values and an original score created by Oscar-winning composer Ennio Morricone, this year’s offering is powerful stuff.

Scenes from its impressive ship MSC Bellissima are mixed with clips from stunning experiences on shore, while words like “adventurous”, “romantic” and “curious” float across the screen underpinned with the phrase “The Sea at its most welcoming”.

If you are a regular cruiser then there is no doubt that this advert will get you to consider trying MSC. If you are not a cruiser then I do wonder if it does enough to convert.

Nonetheless, it is a great advert for MSC and the cruise sector.

4 out of 5

First Choice

‘Home of Ridiculously Good Value’

From a marketeering point of view there are a few vital ingredients to a good television advertisement. Grab attention as early as possible, have a catchy tune that people continue singing when the ad has long finished and create a strong call to action.

While many advertising creatives might want to sneer at this year’s First Choice offering there is little doubt it ticks the key boxes.

Opening with a couple discussing how much they paid for their holiday – just £299 each – the music bed of “The Lion Sleep’s Tonight” quickly kicks in grabbing the attention of families in front rooms across the country.

As the advert unfolds we see a whole series of ridiculous images which the voice- over brings full circle with the line: “Ridiculous deals in ridiculous adverts, First Choice ridiculously good value”.

It’s incredibly well constructed and in any other year could have been a winner for me.

4 out of 5


‘Travel Worth Talking About’

Kuoni’s offering this year wasn’t so much a new creation as a refreshment of a familiar one. But it still works very effectively.

It mentions the trigger word of “sale” in the first frame, has fabulous landscapes and scenery and a brilliant, upbeat and evocative music bed and a wonderful strapline – “Holidays worth talking about” which is an effective call to action.

It also, rare among travel TV adverts, shows agents and shops.

Last year this was the winner for me and by some considerable way. I even suggested it would lead to other players upping their game which this year has happened in most cases.

It’s a landmark travel advert and still as effective as it was when it first burst on to the scene last year.

4 out of 5 


WatchJet2holidays unveils new brand for millennials

Jet2CityBreaks targets couples in new video-on-demand ads

Jet2Holidays has dropped its familiar “Hold My Hand” concept for new brand Vibe and its city breaks offering in favour of a different creative.

In terms of creativity, Jet2Holidays advertisements don’t lead the way but they are effective none the less. The “holidays from £60 deposit” is always going to catch the attention of the viewer and the adverts themselves are fast moving across notable landscapes against the narration of a voice outlining the key advantages of taking a holiday with the brand.

In many ways, it’s a simplistic series of ads but I suspect they will be highly effective.

3 out of 5


Watch: A Breath of Fresh Air

Haven’s effort has very impressive production values reflecting just how much the travel sector has improved in its TV advertising.

Opening with a scene almost straight out of Ben-Hur, we see a chariot driven by a young boy and pulled by white horses as it charges through the breaking surf on a sandy beach.

The cinematic vision and the music bed Swords of A Thousand Men by Tenpole Tudor, really catches the attention of the viewer. The pay off, which sees the mother of the boy telling him not to go too far, works effectively.

The advert powerfully positions Haven for family holidays particularly with the voiceover finishing the line: “Haven, a breath of Fresh Air”.

3 out of 5


Watch: Welcome to our Islands

Olympic Holidays’ TV advertisement is a fast-paced, upbeat sequence of traditional Mediterranean island scenes of beaches, crystal clear seas and relaxing landscapes. Words such as “Escape”, “Explore”, “Immerse” and “Discover” appear on screen before the premise – “Try an island-hopping adventure” appears against visuals of islands with a pay off line of: “Welcome to our islands”.

It has no voiceover but the fast paced, upbeat music bed that underpins the whole advert, accompanied by the words on the screen work well. The advert opens with the Olympic Holidays logo, which remains in the top left-hand corner of the screen throughout. That and the call to action of “Welcome to the Olympic Holidays sale. Save £100 Per Person” makes this an effective advertisement for the brand.

3 out of 5

Travel Republic

Watch: Yours for the Making

One of the challenges of advertising holidays is how to be different and stand out from the rest of the field, particularly when the visual ingredients for travel are so common to most brands.

Travel Republic’s offering with Britain’s Got Talent 2019 finalist Kojo appearing as a face on the wristwatch of a stressed-out couple lying in bed and proposing that a holiday is the way to reconnect and re-energize is lighthearted and avoids many of the clichés of travel advertising. It also manages to get the Travel Republic brand name across effectively.

Where the advert really works is in its targeting and media buying as it runs alongside sponsorship of ITV show Take Me Out which resonates well with specific demographic groups.

3 out of 5


Celebrity Cruises

Watch: Wonder Awaits

Celebrity Cruises hit the television screens this year with their Wonder Awaits advert during the Christmas Day episode of The Great British Bake Off.

As a targeting exercise it was bang on the money. But while its targeting is spot on, the creative is open to different interpretations.

It opens with an aerial view looking down on a Celebrity ship and cuts to a woman relaxing by a pool who falls asleep and dreams of an Alice in Wonderland scenario where she takes in elements of the Celebrity experience.

This is set against Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit which is definitely the best bit of the advert.

The pay off is sight of Captain Kate – great for fans of Celebrity but less effective for those who nothing about the brand.

It’s a highly-polished advert with great production values.

I’m not sure it would convert a non-cruiser to cruise but it might get regular cruisers of other brands to consider Celebrity.

2 out of 5

Hayes & Jarvis

Watch: Extraordinary Travels, Tailored for you

There is no doubt about it, when it comes to stunning visuals, the Hayes & Jarvis offering this year has it all. Africa, Asia, South and North America are all featured against oversized H and J letters spelling out words and phrases such as “handpicked” and “Jaw dropping”.

All this is presented on a melodic and relaxing music bed by the chilled voiceover of Mariella Frostrup.

But it is the music bed that is the downfall of the advertisement. It is too relaxed and almost sleepy – the sort of music you associate with a massage treatment, not amazing scenery and experiences.

In a crowded market where the very limited attention span of the consumer is being fought over by thousands of brands I worry this offering will struggle to cut through and resonate.

It’s inspirational certainly, but perhaps not memorable and that is the challenge for any TV ad.

2 out of 5


Watch: Discover the Real Italy

Great visuals of the different facets of Italy, a relaxing, classy and cheerful music bed and a strapline of “Travel like a Citalian” make this a classic travel TV advert for this time of year.

Although some of the imagery in the advert could be featured on many other travel brands and destinations’ advertising, if Italy appeals as a holiday destination then this advert will resonate with you and put Citalia on your shopping list.

However, if Italy is not on your shopping list this advert would probably fade in your memory pretty quickly.

2 out of 5


EasyJet Holidays

Watch: Hide and Seek

For many consumers easyjet Holidays will be a new name on the scene but its debut advert has all the familiarity of a typical turn-of-year operator ad.

The plot of a holidaymaker playing hide and seek with friends to a cheerful and lively Italian music bed while running around iconic buildings and scenes and ending with the strapline: “The search for your perfect holiday is over. Introducing easyJet Holidays” is classic TV holiday advertising.

For me, it was safe, following a box standard operator advertising template. However, it will be difficult for this one to stand out from the crowd.

2 out of 5


Watch: Coming Home to You

Hoseasons’ offering this year is a 20 second advertisement with a catchy music bed. It consists of different scenes from a Hoeseasons holiday ranging from mountain biking and hot tubs to swimming pools and alfresco eating while enjoying nature – all of which focus around families enjoying experiences together.

The ad also has a strong call to action – £25 deposit but with a sense of a time limit against that offer and the Hoeseasons logo.

It’s a straight to the point advertisement that will appeal to the target market.

2 out of 5

Teletext Holidays

WatchA Great Deal to Talk About

For a certain age group Teletext is a familiar and fondly remembered brand so I for one was delighted to see them back on television.

Its advert offers a simple proposition – whatever you’re looking for in terms of holidays, talk to a “teletexpert”.

It’s an unsophisticated advert that, in the same way you would imagine dealing with the brand, gets straight to the point.

Throughout the advert the call to action is repeated. That, coupled with a closing frame that shows deposits from £49 per person, you can imagine viewers making a note to check the brand out.

It’s not as sophisticated an advert as some of its competitors, and it certainly hasn’t got the production values of others, but it is effective nonetheless.

2 out of 5


Watch: Up Yours

The OTA debuted on television this year with their 30-second advert on Boxing Day.

The visual is simple. A rather shouty narrator says Mel is “living the best life” and is “upping her holiday plans with new love Paul by booking through TravelUp” before asking “why not up yours?”. The ad signs off by saying the brand offers zero percent “faff” across flights, hotels and holidays.

The advert looks and feels different to most and that may appeal to specific segments of the TV audience. The key, for me, will be the number of spots that they have for running the advert across TV channels.

This advert will need more than a few exposures to hit home and be recalled by the audience.

2 out of 5

Air Transat

Watch: Discover Canada

Air Transat ventures into this year’s turn-of-year TV advertising with an advert that opens with stunning scenes of a thundering Niagara Falls and people zip lining through the gorge some 200 feet up before switching to an in-cabin view of a crew member advising passengers on the best way to experience the falls.

It’s perhaps a little too North American in its language (I can imagine the way the male narrator at the the end pronounces leisure could soon grate on the British ear) but that aside, it could inspire people to put the experience and the destination on their must visit list.

2 out of 5

On the Beach

Watch: The Worst Week in The Life of…

There are bland adverts, creative adverts, workmanlike adverts and brave adverts. For me, this year’s series of On the Beach TV adverts definitely fit into the brave category.

The series of TV adverts drops the familiar sand castle character and instead features the voice of singer and actor Iggy Pop.

Focusing on four different scenarios each tells a tale of the worst week in someone’s life, from a woman finding out her best friend slept with her parents to someone accidentally poisoning people after making a cake. They are now on the holiday of a lifetime and they are putting everything into a sort of perspective.

The visual is of a person on a sun lounger on the beach, eyes closed, listening to the surf as Iggy Pop gives us their story. There is no music bed.

It’s a distinctive advert and, in a way, memorable, but I suspect that after seeing it the first time you wouldn’t take much notice of it again.

For me it doesn’t work – but maybe for others it does.

1 out of 5



Watch: Oliver and Elsie

Having been a dominant force in travel marketing for most of the decade I was, frankly, disappointed by Tui’s effort this time around.

The tale of young brother and sister, Oliver and Elsie, experiencing a water slide in a sunny resort while Elsie tells us how holidays are her “favourite thing in the world” lacks any sparkle or standout feature for me.

It’s almost as if Tui is falling into the standard trap of any dominant market sector brand – they don’t have to try hard because its size, market share and position takes care of itself. So, it seems, they didn’t bother trying this year.

Very disappointing.

1 out of 5

MoreTurn-of-year TV ad campaigns 2019