SBD/Issue 28/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

HomeAway Debuting National Campaign Effort With Super Bowl Ad

Austin-based vacation rental company HomeAway Inc. is making its first foray into Super Bowl advertising during CBS' telecast of the February 7 game, and the ad will be closely coordinated with an Internet-based national campaign. HomeAway Founder & CEO Brian Sharples said the company is aiming to "create something at the Super Bowl that engages people enough to want to see more." Sharples noted the company plans to shoot "a lot more footage" than what viewers will see in the Super Bowl spot, which represents HomeAway's first national ad. "There will be a lot more online, and we're going to try to engage consumers to come to our Web site and see more of it," he said. "Hopefully in that process they can discover our products too, search around on the site and maybe come back when they're ready to take a vacation." Sharples said many Internet-related Super Bowl advertisers in recent years have returned to the game after their initial efforts, which served as a "good signal" for HomeAway. "There's so much PR for the advertising on the Internet post-Super Bowl that if you're an online business, you can get a lot more bang for your buck than just the media on game day," Sharples said. "So that's certainly what we're going to attempt to capitalize on." Sharples did not disclose when the ad will air during CBS' telecast, nor could he reveal financial details around the ad buy. However, he described the Super Bowl spend as "right in there with the averages that everybody else reports."

Watch The "Seriously" Clip From
HomeAway's Test Campaign

PIECE OF THE PUZZLE: The 30-second spot will serve as the launching point for HomeAway's national campaign, which is expected to run for most of '10 on broadcast and cable networks, as well as online. Sharples said there will be a "pretty significant Internet element" to the campaign, including banner advertising. HomeAway will begin shooting the Super Bowl ad in late-November and early-December, and while Sharples was unable to disclose any further details, he said the company plans to reveal more about the ad content in mid-November. HomeAway is working with agency of record Publicis in the West to develop and produce the ad and related online efforts. Sharples noted the cost of the Super Bowl ad will be "far less than 10% of what we spend on the total campaign," and the campaign spend is easily the company's largest marketing cost to date for a single campaign. "As a company we spend a lot of money in online search marketing, and those numbers last year far dwarf what we're spending on the Super Bowl," he said. "But in terms of a single campaign, anything that's in broad-reach media, it's by far the biggest thing we've done."

TESTING, TESTING: HomeAway worked with Publicis in the West over the summer to test advertising creative in select markets, including Chicago, Denver and S.F. Sharples said the goal of the summer campaign, titled "Seriously," was to determine how the creative "impacted awareness of the business [and] how it impacted sales" of the company's products. He added the creative execution of the forthcoming national campaign "will end up being a little bit different" than the test campaign. "It's going to be obviously upgraded a little bit for the Super Bowl stage," he said.

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