Kayak kicks off in Canada

Who wants to search for flights like they did during the Civil War? To target travel-happy Canadians, the flight aggregator goes after "old-fashioned" habits.

“You have a very travel-happy community,” says Robert Birge, CMO, Kayak. “Canadians are well-travelled.”

And, for those well-travelled Canadians, Kayak wants to be your new best friend.

The 10-year-old U.S. company aggregates flight searches from around the globe to serve up the cheapest ticket possible. The website’s been available in Canada since its inception, but Canadians had to contend with searching in U.S. prices and only English (a common ailment for online shoppers). Awareness in Canada is dramatically lower than in the U.S., Birge says, but there’s a small percentage of the population who use it regularly.

But last year, after a purchase by discount travel company Priceline Group, Kayak embarked on an aggressive global expansion effort.

The brand started by rolling out country-specific pages (in Canada, you can now search in Canadian dollars and in French or English), as well as kicking off a TV/digital push created by Amsterdam-based creative house TBWA\Neboko.

The first batch of creative aired in France, Spain and Italy, while Canada’s push starts this evening on specialty networks, such as HGTV, Comedy and Food Network, Birge says.

The insight for the creative stems from research that found people, when hunting for a cheap ticket, are likely to search more than 20 sites. So the ad is designed to change behaviour, he says, showing how “old-fashioned” this act actually is. It’s a humourous take on the act – something your father, father’s father and father’s father’s father did (and of course, the internet isn’t actually that old).

When asked why they didn’t create a Canadian-specific campaign, (the same creative will be used globally, with different voiceovers), Birge admits there are some big differences between European and Canadian travel habits (Europeans, he says, are more likely to buy vacation packages, for example, and have more low-cost carriers). But insight came down to the fact that generally, people across both sides of the Atlantic use the site for the same reasons.

The campaign targets a higher-educated, higher-income group of people, skewing a bit older than one might expect, and a little bit towards women. It will run “persistently” in Canada, with a media spend that offers up a competitive share of voice compared to other online travel sites, with PHD handling the buy. There’s no end date for the overarching campaign, he says, with the media spend shifting depending on consumer response.