The “All Aboard Amazing” campaign is the first from Vancouver-based Rocky Mountaineer since it hired DDB Vancouver and OMD Canada to oversee its creative and media last year.
The multi-media campaign is anchored by a visually arresting 30-spot that opens on a standard live-action shot of Rocky Mountaineer passengers before transitioning to an animated depiction of one of its journeys.
Backed by a piano-led score, the animation depicts a mountain towering over a green valley, clouds serenely drifting by and a Rocky Mountaineer train winding its way through the picturesque scene, before returning to a live action shot of the actual train winding through the wilderness.
Nikki Hellyer, director of global marketing with Rocky Mountaineer, said the ads are meant to distinguish the company in a sea of travel ads – particularly those promoting travel packages and journeys – that tend to highlight their destinations’ natural beauty.
“It might be a different ship, or a different train or different scenery, but it kind of looks the same,” said Hellyer. “We wanted something ownable and we wanted something that really brought the magic and wonder of the experience to life.”
Steve Sammut, who this week was promoted to Rocky Mountaineer president from his previous role as executive vice-president and chief financial officer, had input into the campaign strategy, said Hellyer.
The TV ads are running across a mix of conventional and specialty channels in Canada, complemented by targeted buys in specific U.S. markets and nationally in both Australia (one of the company’s key markets) and New Zealand (a fast-emerging market).
Hellyer said the company was using audience segmentation tools to refine and optimize its buy.
While the newspaper-first strategy that has traditionally comprised the bulk of Rocky Mountaineer’s marketing efforts has “done wonders” in building its business, Hellyer said the company had tinkered with its media mix to reflect changing consumer habits.
“As we see trends shifting and see more of our audience coming to us from online channels, specifically mobile, we wanted to make sure we took a step back and looked at the right media mix,” said Hellyer. “The first step was really making sure we were broadening our mix and getting after our audience in multiple touch points in their research and journey to booking.”
Rocky Mountaineer continues to use newspaper advertising, though Hellyer said it’s now a more tactical media that conveys a specific offer to prospective customers.
The video spot is being complemented by a series of print ads that use the same animated approach. One depicts a mountain accompanied by the phrase “Shhh, the giants are sleeping,” while another shows a Rocky Mountaineer dwarfed by the surrounding landscape, accompanied by the phrase “Seems like it’s not a small world after all.”
All the print ads contain a specific offer, such as the $800 “peaks and perks” offer, or highlight a specific package such as the $5,449 per person “Golden Circle via Whistler” package that runs from Vancouver through Whistler, Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff before returning to Vancouver and includes a 10-night hotel stay.
The campaign is intended to convey the magic and majesty of a Rocky Mountaineer journey said Hellyer. “We wanted to really find a campaign that would evoke an emotion that’s greater than ‘Hey, that looks like a great train trip.’ We wanted it to be something deeper than that.”
While Rocky Mountaineer books guests year-round, Hellyer said January to March is a peak season. The lower Canadian dollar is also proving a significant boon for the company (“It makes the guests’ buying power that much greater,” said Hellyer), and is expected to produce an increase in bookings from the U.S.
“Canada is one of those countries that is on a lot of people’s lists, but sometimes there isn’t a great sense of urgency to get there because it’s seen as easy,” said Hellyer. “But, when you see shifts like this around foreign exchange, it becomes a really compelling place to go to. We want to make sure that Rocky Mountaineer is the first place people are thinking of.”