“Kya aapne kabhi online hotel search kiya hai?”
We bet you have, and if it was any time after 2018, we bet every time you heard this phrase all you could think about was Trivago. Trivago is not the only hotel search website in India; in fact, other hotel aggregators like MakeMyTrip and GoIbibo were far more popular than Trivago, until it launched the new “face” of the brand in a series of viral ads featuring Abhinav Kumar, their then Head of Country Development in India. His demeanor of being a lanky professional, dressed in an office blazer, talking to the camera in a slightly high-pitched tone, gave the audience a chance to recollect the brand playfully making him a viral personality with the name “Trivago guy.”
Soon enough, internet search history was filled with queries about the “Trivago guy” turning this into a brand building campaign, resulting in 68% higher revenues while increasing the footfall traffic at an exponential rate. So, why did this approach to build their brand work for Trivago and how can other brands learn from their marketing strategy? Let’s find out.
Do You Need A Face For The Brand?
The mystery of “The Trivago guy” was a thought that popped in the head of every viewer. However, it was not this entropy that made Abhinav Kumar the face of Trivago in India. Trivago has its business horizons expanded to over 56 countries, and in each of these countries, their concept for TV commercials has been to utilise a relatively lesser-known face to talk about their company’s story and services. This plan started after their successful ad stint in the USA, where they created an ad which focused on how the app could be used by anyone, hence choosing an actor who wasn’t quite famous among the masses. The result – this campaign triggered a nation-wide opinion piece while the hashtag #trivagoguy went viral on Twitter, garnering attention for Tim. This became their sure-shot approach for ads.
However, after facing casting troubles for their TV advertisements in India, Abhinav was asked to pitch in, and he did so, as a last resort. But this time, the ad not only matched the results achieved in the USA, but also created an unmatched buzz around this persona. Right from the time these ads hit the television screens, they got the brand and its mascot a virality in digital media space, making him a nationwide topic of discussion. His average-Joe appearance, coupled with a quirky speech, and tone complemented the brand identity, strengthened their promise that anyone could easily use their app. While marketers and audience started dissecting these ads to understand their success formula. While Trivago’s approach was appreciated by most, some could not help but get irritated by the odd dialogue delivery and non-TV friendly look of this new face of the brand. However, no matter how good or bad the publicity was, it only drew more attention to Trivago, making the brand a big success.
The well-placed TV advertisements, which accounted for 66% of the total viewership in 2018, increased Trivago’s internet audience to over 300+ million. The conversation percolated into other communication channels too, with Abhinav and vis a vis Trivago becoming the poster child of meme makers. In other words, as competitors squandered millions of dollars on casting big budget endorsements, Trivago became the talk of the town with a simple approach – Selecting the right face for their brand, communicating their USP effectively. At this point, as a brand owner you might have a very interesting question poking around in your head.
Who Can Be the Face Of Your Brand?
Drawing inference from Trivago’s journey, their decision to find the right face was both strategic and fortuitous. In many cases, the founders themselves have become the face of the brand as they best represent the soul, ideals, and personality of the brand. Steve Jobs and Elon Musk are two noteworthy examples who have shouldered the image of their respective companies, Apple and Tesla.
But we do get it that marketing strategies are not built on luck and thus, the road to finding the right face for a brand is forked into two paths: groom the face or let a natural candidate appropriate themself. To groom a face, you need to first build a persona for the brand. Curate the hobbies that your brand follows, establish its likes and dislikes, define its traits. Once you do this, all that’s left is match it with a celebrity or an influencer who matches your brand and its personality, and voila, you have the new face of your brand. Alternatively, you could also ingrain these qualities in a creation of your own. Take inspiration from famous brands like Pringles, 7UP, Amul, Vodafone, and Parle-G amongst others, which condensed their brand image into endearing mascots that eventually became the face of their respective brands.
How To Build an Effective Marketing Campaign Around the Brand Face?
If you’ve read this far you know that choosing the right face can help a brand become more relatable, personalised and accessible by associating human attributes to it. A ‘familiar face’ can channel negotiations, networking, and communication better than a brand. However, it is not mandatory for the face of your brand to be human; they can also be human-like. This means marketing campaigns can be as effective when they are centered around a figure or mascot with human attributes, such as personality traits, speech, likes, quirks, and hobbies, The important distinction is to take cognizance of variables like budget, target audience, and brand positioning. Trivago, as we pointed out, clicked on all these check-points with ease. In a nutshell, the need for having a brand face gives your brand an edge over your competition, giving you new opportunities to connect, communicate and build a relationship with your audience. Its time to understand your brand’s voice, personality and create a persona that is etched in not only your target audience, but also in the hearts of marketers and brands across the digital space.