Expedia is focused on the number one rule of creating branded content: tell good stories.
Its latest video focuses on cancer survivor Maggie Cupit and her memories of a friend named Odie. Both met while they were patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and while Maggie won her battle with cancer, Odie lost his.
AdWeek’s Tim Nudd writes that emotional videos are nothing new for the brand. Recently, it released a spot called “Find Your Understanding” that was received by many as an endorsement for gay marriage.
“Like the earlier spot, this one is about more than one kind of trip,” Nudd writes. “It relates a physical journey and an emotionally transformative one at the same time — which is Expedia’s larger point about all kinds of travel. ‘Find your understanding’ was the tagline on the earlier spot. This one ends with ‘Find your strength.'”
With the video, Expedia pledged to match up to $250,000 in donations to St. Jude’s. It has more than 1.8 million hits — an emotional tale combined with a charitable cause has been a knockout with viewers.
“Emotions are what drive and compel us. Emotions are the reason we do and say crazy things,” says Dave Martin of Ignited. “They are also the reason we buy the same type of car, beer, shoe brand or sandwich over and over … because of the way those brands make us feel.”
Expedia taps into issues everyone can sympathize with. While not everybody has had cancer, of course, everyone has had to find their own strength in tough times and try and understand someone else’s struggles.
Martin says that marketers need to “tell a story with conflict, and characters and tension and resolution. We may not be able to force consumers to watch our ads, but what we can do is create something that is so compelling that consumers will feel a need to watch it. And if we really get our story right, we might even make them want to share it with their friends.”
Expedia is betting that consumers are going to remember the travel company for these compelling stories.