Holiday Inn Express Stay Smart

MINNEAPOLIS—Holiday Inn Express launches the newest addition to the popular “Stay Smart” campaign, created by Fallon Minneapolis. The latest commercial in the successful ad campaign once again features an average Joe who find himself somehow smarter following a Holiday Inn Express hotel stay—this time it’s on the brand new set of “Jeopardy!” and includes a cameo by, Alex Trebek.
“I think consumers will respond to the new “Jeopardy!” `Stay Smart` commercial. It is unique in that this is the first time we have used a celebrity cameo in our `Stay Smart` ad campaign. We believe Alex Trebek embodies the smart message and consumers immediately identify him and the Jeopardy game show with being `smart`,” said Jenifer Zeigler, brand vice president for Holiday Inn Express. “We are excited about how consumers have embraced the ad campaign and believe the “Jeopardy!” spot to be a natural evolution,” said Zeigler.
In this commercial parody of one of America`s favorite game shows, an amiable contestant—a bouncer from Saskatchewan whose hobbies include eating and lighting firecrackers—blows his Ivy League competition away with his intellectual prowess. He then shocks Alex with the revelation that he’s not in high school yet, but he did “stay at a
Holiday Inn Express last night`.” “Leaving a stunned Alex Trebek speechless.

“With “Jeopardy!” we were able to juxtapose the typically well educated, scholarly contestants with a guy who is clearly out of place and under-qualified,” said Ryan Peck, Fallon Copywriter. “The familiarity people have with the show, the host, and the expression, ‘no, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night’ adds to the humor,” added Scott O’Leary, Fallon Art Director.
“Jeopardy” debuts on Feb. 23 on cable television stations, including CNN, Comedy Central, VH1, and ESPN. “Snakebite,” which launched in November will also be running in the rotation.

The campaign is designed to differentiate and generate awareness for the Holiday Inn Express brand and help contribute to its success as a category leader in its segment(mid-scale without food and beverage). The advertising has delivered on all counts, resulting in EFFIE awards for advertising effectiveness from the American Marketing Association (1999-2002). Since the “Stay Smart” ad campaign debut in 1998 in the U.S., Holiday Inn Express total brand awareness has increased 27 percent and advertising awareness increased 160 percent.
The campaign strategy has evolved to a more holistic brand strategy. Instead of just advertising messages to potential guests, the campaign has become a part of the stay experience itself. The `Stay Smart` message has been extended into new, in-hotel venues.
Most exciting is how consumers have embraced the campaign, which has infiltrated pop culture with the much-referenced famous last line, “No, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.” It has been declared by ESPN commentators, David Letterman, NPR, Monday Night Football, The Washington Post and even Al Gore. Most recently, USA Today included the “A5 Virus” spot in the CBS television special, “World’s Greatest Commercials,” which aired in May 2002.
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