Could you be Captain Obvious?

A new social contest to temporarily fill the Hotels.com spokesperson's shoes aims to build on the brand's social momentum.
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Even if they spend their work days trying to save you money on your next trip, spokespeople deserve a vacation too.

That’s why travel site Hotels.com and agency J. Walter Thompson Canada have launched a new contest to find a temporary replacement for Captain Obvious while he goes on holiday.

In the “Temp Captain Contest,” entrants can film a 30-second audition tape explaining why they should be the next Captain, and then enter by posting it to Twitter or Instagram with “#TempCaptain” or uploading it to the contest website.

Entries will be compiled on the site, and the eventual winners will receive a $1000 Hotels.com gift card and be flown to Toronto to star in a series of new Hotels.com commercials.

The campaign is being promoted through social, as well as with an online video showing the Captain packing for his upcoming trip. JWT and PR agency Hill + Knowlton are also engaging Canadian influencers to create their own entries into the contest. MEC is handling media planning and buying for the campaign.

When Hotels.com began increasing its marketing presence in the Canadian market last year, a major goal was to jump start the brand’s sluggish business here. Mike Wolfe, senior director of brand marketing at Hotels.com, says the brand has been happy with its progress and is hoping the “Temp Captain” contest will help continue the momentum it has gained so far, especially when it comes to interactive social campaigns.

In January, Hotels.com launched the “Winter Swear Jar” campaign, which reached out to those tweeting complaints about the cold weather with a link to an online swear jar that filled up the more negative tweets there were. Every time it filled up, one of the complainers would be rewarded with a $1000 gift card.

“We’re also competing against brands who are experience-driven and retain an engaged audience,” Wolfe says. “So leveraging our strongest brand icon in an interactive-social experience makes a lot of sense, as opposed to only doing what’s comfortable – such as traditional advertising like TV and online video.”

The contest portion of the campaign is more focused on general brand building, but the content created with the winners will be focused on the Hotels.com Rewards program, which Wolfe says is a differentiator in the travel category.

Next week, Hotels.com will also launch its first branded Snapchat lens, giving users in Canada the ability to virtually put on the Captain’s beard, hat and sunglasses. Wolfe says younger travelers are an important target the brand is continuing to try and engage with in new ways – like interactive social campaigns and presences on platforms like Snapchat – but travelers of all ages are important to the company’s goals. Hotels.com also has a pair of new TV spots in market, as well as radio and out-of-home, and the influencers being engaged during the contest are meant to appeal to a wide range of audiences.

“Emerging travelers are definitely an important part of the present and future of the travel category,” Wolfe says. “While travel is a passion for consumers of all ages, millennials continue to represent more of the whole for the category. People of all ages are also entrenched in social media, and we wanted to make sure that they have the right content to engage with on the platforms they use most.”