Holiday Inn Express rekindles an Original Six rivalry

The hotel chain has NHL legends go head-to-head to promote its new breakfast menu among sports fans.
Holiday Inn Express-Hockey Legends Doug Gilmour and Guy Carbonne

The Holiday Inn Express is tapping into a longstanding NHL rivalry to promote its new breakfast menu among a key audience.

In the “Readiest Breakfast Challenge Canada” campaign, Toronto Maple Leafs legend Doug Gilmore takes on Canadiens great Guy Carbonneau in a breakfast cook-off to see who can come up with a more compelling breakfast creation using the hotel chain’s new 30-item Express Start Breakfast Bar. Carbonneau got the upper hand with his winning “Power Play Pancake Cup,” a fluffy pancake cone concoction filled with fresh scrambled eggs and sausage.

The campaign is an adaptation of a similar campaign Holiday Inn Express brand ran in the U.S., which featured college football standouts.

“The campaign resonated really well, and we wanted similar resonance in Canada,“ according to Jennifer Gribble, VP Global Holiday Inn Express Mainstream Growth, Intercontinental Hotels Group. This move made a lot of strategic sense, she says, not just because Canada is hockey mad, but because the brand has a “strong relationship with [youth and amateur] sports teams,” because they frequent their hotels when they are on the road for tournaments. The Holiday Inn Express brand sales team even uses a sales toolkit called “Game Changing Advantage,” which helps it facilitate sports team bookings.

Another motivation for running the campaign is that, according to Gribble, breakfast is one of the biggest drivers when that audience considers booking a hotel. Highlighting the new menu changes and additions made sense, as the brand refreshed its breakfast menu at 100 locations across the country.

The “Readiest Breakfast Challenge Canada” is one of the ways the brand has activated on “Be the Readiest,” the hotel brand’s overarching campaign that has been in the market for about two years, originally developed by Ogilvy. This particular Canadian campaign was led by Hill & Knowlton and IHG. It will run until April 25th on social media.