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In the busy lives we lead in the 21st century, it is sometimes easy to get swept away with our everyday concerns and fail to pay due attention to the bigger picture. Well, a recent marketing campaign by HomeAway takes advantage of this notion and draws attention to the manner in which we sometimes let life pass us by.

HomeAway is a world leader in vacation rentals, and has recently launched a globally integrated marketing campaign which is intended to bring to life the joy of a whole vacation for the entire family. Thus, the campaign is being referred to as “Whole Vacation”, and has the overarching intention of attracting a wide range of demographics to the company.

Viral Video

One of the most interesting aspects of this campaign is a video that HomeAway has produced recently. The vacation rental site has enlisted the talents of rapper Prince Ea to assist them with this campaign, and the artist can draw on a Facebook following of 1.36 million people to aid this process. Effectively, what the video represents is a soft-sell approach, with Prince Ea extolling the virtues of travel as a life-altering and spiritual experience over three minutes and 25 seconds.

Entitled “Working to Live or Living to Work?”, the video addresses the concept discussed in the first paragraph of this article, namely that too many of us become consumed with work and material considerations instead of embracing the incredible world around us. Central to the concept of the video is a statistic quoted in its very beginning. Although there is no source for this particular morsel of information, it is nevertheless an intriguing factoid.

According to the video, 50 percent of people choose not to take their full quota of vacations last year. This is a concept that will be familiar to many people, and when it’s quoted it honestly puts into perspective the whole concept of work-life balance.

The video challenges our socio-economic values and the question of whether we are spending our time wisely. Yet it does this in a way which does not grate with the viewer nor cause conflict, instead it gently cajoles us into a realisation which is already within many of us.

With this in mind, Prince Ea poses the rhetorical question of whether it is crazy that so many of us work even when we have no obligation to do so. He then points out all of the life-changing activities that we could be engaged in instead of working, while summoning up some exotic and attractive imagery.

The Influencer Strategy

This viral video is part of a wider strategy being implemented by HomeAway. The company intends to take advantage of social media influencers in order to spread its message about the psychological and physical benefits of vacation as far and wide as possible.

But the key word in the strategy is definitely ‘influencer’. This is not a campaign that assaults the viewer, nor does it aggressively attack consumers with a sales pitch. Instead, it spreads an alluring message about the value of vacations, and attempts to deliver a universal concept to which anyone across multiple cultures and nations can easily relate.

One of the interesting aspects to note about the video is that the rapper hired to perform it in fact doesn't mention the name of the company at any stage during the performance. This would have been considered anathema at one time, but companies are steadily learning that subtly nudging people in an appropriate purchasing direction can be far more effective than giving them a jarring pro-corporate message.

At the end of the video, as Prince Ea gazes in the distance at a night sky filled with city lights, these words appear: “Take Your #WholeVacation. HomeAway.” This obviously introduces the social media campaign related to the promotion, while also ensuring that the advertisement aspect of the video detracts from the message of the production as little as possible.

Engaging Consumers Subtly

Digital marketers should note that it is increasingly important to engage consumers in subtle ways. Major corporations such as Apple spend vast amounts of money creating advertisements with outstanding production values, and then attempt to associate their brand with a certain feeling and ethos, as opposed to ramming its supposed qualities down the throat of viewers. This HomeAway campaign is another example of that technique.

The key to creating viral videos is to appeal to people's emotions about holidays, vacations and travel destinations, as opposed to objectively selling them based on their particularly unique qualities. Connecting with people on an emotional level is likely to be far more successful than battering them over the head with an advertising slogan. Influencing people in the 21st century necessitates a far subtler approach than in the past, owing to the marketing savvy of the average person today.

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