Hill, Holliday Issues Red Alert

A dashboard bobblehead doll has evicted come dian Martin Mull from his role as spokesperson for the Red Roof Inns motel chain. The first campaign featuring “Red,” a business-attired character with a full head of flaming-red locks, breaks nationwide on April 1. The tagline for the effort is, “Red knows the road.”

The campaign is the first work Hill, Holliday in San Francisco has created for Red Roof since gaining the estimated $13 million business last September. The shop edged out TBWA\ Chiat\Day, Playa del Rey, Calif.; Cramer-Krasselt, Chicago; and DeVito/Verdi, New York, to win the account.

Although the incumbent, The Richards Group in Dallas, did not participate in the creative review, the shop continues to handle media buying for the Dallas-based client.

Rob Bagot, evp and creative director at Hill, Holliday, noted that the Red character was used by the agency when it pitched the account last fall. The client was so smitten by the little briefcase-toting redhead that it decided to enlist the doll’s services full-time, Bagot said.

With Red, the new campaign aims to convey Red Roof’s empathy for the road traveler. Red is “the ultimate friend of the traveler,” Bagot said. “He’s been everywhere and seen everything because he lives on the dashboard of the car.”

Five new TV spots highlight the special amenities available at any of the more than 330 Red Roof Inns nationwide.

In one ad touting free coffee, Red declines to take a sip from a motel guest’s cup. “None for me, bud, I’m jittery enough,” Red says, as his spring-mounted head bobs up and down.

The ads are slated to run on cable and network stations nationwide. Radio will also run nationally, and print work will appear in USA Today.

Red Roof Inns was acquired by Accor, a Paris-based company, for $1.1 billion in 1999. Accor is the parent of Accor Economy Lodging, which operates Red Roof, Motel 6 and Studio 6.