Friday, March 30, 2007

Biggles, gnomes, oh my...

What is the world of online travel coming to when the leading players in this space start employing fictional characters to pump up their sales and then issue a press release commenting on the escapades of their made-up creatures to boot?

First we had Cheapflight's "Where the hell is Biggles?" campaign on YouTube, and now we have "The Roaming Gnome" from Travelocity hitting the screens of MySpace.

US-based interactive marketing company Click Here says its latest online effort to showcase Travelocity’s beloved ad icon is realising huge success.

In a press release, Click Here notes that the gnome is “not all about fun and games” (of course not, gnomes are serious business).

The company adds, “Travelocity’s foray into MySpace with The Roaming Gnome was made with increases in traffic, bookings and brand loyalty/buzz, as well as exposure to new audiences, clearly in mind”.

Case in point: with minimal hype following the profile’s soft launch, The Roaming Gnome has thus far amassed more than 3,300 friends (gnomes have friends???).

To help keep the brand top of mind in the social networking space, The Roaming Gnome’s profile has an array of features for his friends to enjoy, including downloadable icons, wallpapers and profile skins; videos; ringtones; games; a search/booking widget; and access to the Gnome store on Travelocity.

And that's not all. The Roaming Gnome will apparently "actively" (what!) communicate with his friends via regular blog entries and bulletins.

Well, how do you like that?

There's only one slight problem from what I can see: It's not terribly original.

According to urban legend, several years ago a couple of backpackers nicked a gnome from an older couple's front garden.

For the following 12 months, the backpackers sent postcards to the couple, featuring the gnome in various settings around the world--the Pyramids, the Great Wall, etc.

One day, the couple woke up to find their gnome placed comfortably back in their garden, albeit looking slightly worse for the wear.

The story goes that the gnome's parents (parents???) told a local reporter about the incident and the travelling gnome legend was born.

Then again, he probably didn't have nearly as many "friends" as Travelocity's gnome.

Tricia Holly Davis, chief writer, Travolution

1 comment:

Dan said...

Tricia,

The jet-set antics of a chosen few can all too easily overshadow broader underlying gnomic plight. The lot of the modern gnome is not a happy one.

Every day he - and it usually is a "he" for this is a most unreconstructed of societies - wakes to find another once-rich fish pond polluted. As with many of our most treasured fauna, the march of human "progress" forces these Germanic gems of suburban horticulture further and further into the hinterland.

Small wonder that some choose to "sell-out" to creative services agencies with fat client
cheque-books. But the world should remember that the glamour of international travel is not the norm for your common or garden gnome.