Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Do little breaks make a big difference..?

You may have seen the Eurostar's advertising campaign called 'Little breaks make a big difference'. Beyond the posters I've seen in the tube, activities are being run across experiential, social and digital media (Created by Fallon, Vizeum and We Are Social). I was lucky enough to be invited for one of these little breaks mentioned in the tag line and went off to Paris on Saturday, along with about 43 other men and women in total for a romantic singles day out in the City of Lights.

Before we go any further, I'd like to point out I'm completely biased here given I love Paris and I love the Eurostar already and have been an advocate of both for a long time.

I lived most of my life in and around Paris, and am really Parisian more than anything - which is where my charming arrogance comes from; in case you ever wondered. It was quite funny going back for a day and with a group doing touristy stuff.

The Eurostar is simply awesome for a variety of reasons:
  1. It's a train. Traveling by train is much more sophisticated and relaxed than the plane - unless you have your own private jet (Of course your own private train would be even better).
  2. It goes from city centre to city centre, without going through the airport outside of town and several hours of humiliating security checks
  3. This is an important one that tends to be taken for granted: It travels by way of a tunnel under the sea. Sure, managing to have a few tons of metal carcass crammed with people flying is a feat human beings can be proud of, but building an underwater tunnel is definitely badass [technical term].
  4. it's fast and comfortable - now just about 2h20min from London to Paris
  5. Great food served with champagne in first class
  6. Did I mention it crossed a tunnel going under the sea?
I've been thinking about experiences a lot lately, it's interesting to note that advertising in the traditional sense cannot generate an experience, but that an experience can cause advertising.

At best, traditional advertising can generate an emotional response [Oh that's cute / clever / funny / etc], a thought [Sounds like a good idea], which might lead to an intention [Maybe I should try that out], and in an ideal world end in an action [buy something]. Nothing wrong with that and it does a great job for awareness and such like, but no experience there.

Now I think taking a similar scenario and adding your money where your mouth is by providing people with an experience demonstrating what the brand is claiming on the adverts can enhance all those marketing efforts.

The tagline for the Eurostar campaign is Little breaks, big difference. I saw the posters of laughing couples on a Parisian café terrace in the tube over the summer with that line and thought it seemed nice. The line would make sense to anyone, though not necessarily Eurostar specific (A little break flying to Barcelona or driving to the Cotwolds can also make a big difference). It doesn't matter that much because as far as I know in terms of positioning nobody had used the line before so they have a good chance owning that idea.

Now I think what really anchors that position is the experience.

So the cycle becomes something like:
See the advert > These people look happy > Think it's a good idea > Get a real life experience consistent with that idea. Now if I share that with other people, it's not conceptual, it's real. And people relate to real experiences more than they do with lines we all know were written up to sell more stuff.

I had a brilliant day out in Paris so I talked about it. With the cab driver on the way to St Pancras in the morning who told me he was going to check out prices because he was just thinking of going on a weekend away. To the cab driver on the way back home, to five different friends yesterday, to about 10 colleagues already this morning, and now I'm writing about it in my blog. Sure, I'm not a TV channel and I don't have an audience in the millions but I provided Eurostar with personalised brand interactions of at least a couple of minutes with each of those people.

Unless you go all #6weeks over it, difficult to say what it's all worth specifically; but I would say it's worth going through the effort of proving that your brand can deliver on the advert tagline or slogan in reality.

It was a brilliant day out and got to meet with a great bunch of people, though I have to say one disappointment was that we stayed indoors doing speed dating for almost the whole afternoon.

We had good fun but when I realised at least a couple of people had never been to Paris in their life I thought it was a missed opportunity. Speed dating is something you can do in London and we were already spending the whole day together and getting to know each other so it wasn't really needed; we could have gone walking somewhere, visit a museum, whatever something more Parisian - and speed dating is kind of the opposite of romantic. But then the tourist bus ride (courtesy of myself talking complete nonsense at the mic in front of the bus as we drove through town) and the boat ride were really cool and relaxed.

And on the romance front I hear you ask? Well there seemed to be at least one couple getting together, several dates scheduled and definitely some phone numbers exchanged so that sounds pretty successful too.

All in all probably the longest post I've written to answer yes to a question. Little breaks do make a big difference and good on Eurostar for being a brand demonstrating what they stand for rather than just telling us.

Update: The video edit is now on Youtube

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