Threeway Weekend or Three-Day Weekend? HotelTonight’s Ads Cheekily Blur the Lines

Mekanism shows how one letter changes everything

Situations aren't quite as saucy as they sound on first blush in the new 'Let's Have a Threeday' campaign. HotelTonight
Headshot of T.L. Stanley

Trios of friends are hatching plans for long weekends and mini-getaways in the new campaign for HotelTonight called, “Let’s Have a Threeday.”

Or are they talking about something else entirely?

The mildly saucy ads purposely obscure the audio during the word “threeday,” so that they seem to suggest something a little more outré than a Friday-to-Sunday jaunt.

The spots are aimed at millennial travelers who are taking shorter, more frequent trips instead of the more traditional week-long vacations, according to the brand’s research. But they’re likely to appeal to a broader demo (of pun lovers and non-prudes).

“Everybody involved really understood the humor and played it straight down the middle,” said Ray Elias, the brand’s CMO. “We used the sound gag to mask the ‘d’ in day, but we’re actually talking about a three-day weekend.”

Minds out of the gutter, y’all. Or, rather, feel free to go there, cheeky monkeys.

Rachel Feinstein (Trainwreck, Crashing, Last Comic Standing) stars in the spots, which are the first video ads from HotelTonight with its new agency partner Mekanism San Francisco. Mike Bernstein, a Saturday Night Live vet, frequent ad collaborator and branded content creator, directed the campaign.

Feinstein, who spends a fair amount of time on the road for appearances and shows, fit the bill as a brand ambassador because HotelTonight wanted to strengthen its ties to the comedy community and align with “actual customers, not spokespeople,” Elias said. Feinstein and her firefighter fiancé have often booked through the app, he said.

The idea for “Threeday” came from several women on the brand’s in-house creative team after internal research found that three-day stays increased 41 percent year over year.

HotelTonight and Mekanism worked together on each part of the campaign, which includes digital, social, mobile and high-profile outdoor ads, radio and audio (like music streaming services) in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, and pop-up events with Feinstein.

Since Elias sees it as an “evergreen” campaign, “Threeday” could run beyond summer and possibly hit television at some point, he said. The irreverent tone is in keeping with previous ads from the brand and helps differentiate it from traditional marketers in travel, he said.

“It’s a big, vast cluttered category where competitors are talking about longer trips,” he said. “We wanted to hone in on the three-day weekend because it’s an authentically ownable place for us.”

In the ads, Feinstein and her friends get excited about planning a “threeday,” with strategically placed sound effects like a blender, garbage disposal, dishes breaking and gym rats grunting to give the message a double-entendre twist.

It may be important to note that the female characters are asking for the “threedays” in these scenarios, though the dudes are generally stoked at the prospect. In short, no guy turns down the offer—for a vacation, that is. (Also, unlike Jack in the Box’s innuendo-centric “Jack’s Bowls” campaign, HotelTonight’s ads wisely avoid placing such conversations in the workplace.)

The seven-year-old HotelTonight, which counts about 29 million downloads, has typically taken a “hyperlocal” approach to its summer marketing, catering to those who search for last-minute room rentals, though the app now allows for longer-term planning, Elias said.

“Threeday” marks the brand’s most significant campaign to date, following holiday ads from the past two seasons that encouraged visits home (but not to cohabitate with the relatives) and that warned of weird family members’ even weirder pets.

Eric Cosper, Mekanism’s creative director, said the agency wanted to capture HotelTonight’s “provocative spirit” in “Threeday.”

“We put the innuendo on the viewer, to stop them in their tracks,” he said. “And if they see something beyond people getting excited about having a three-day weekend, that’s on them.”

CREDITS:

Client: Hotel Tonight
Creative Director: Jordan Braun
Chief Marketing Officer: Ray Elias
Senior Social Media Manager: Beth Teague

Agency: Mekanism San Francisco

Executive Creative Director: Tommy Means
Chief Operating Officer: Michael Zlatoper
Director of Brand Management: Anna Boyarski
Creative Director: Eric Cosper
Associate Creative Director: Ben Heller
Head of Production: Kati Haberstock
Producer: Kara Bello
Talent Manager: Kourtney Luster
Senior Brand Manager: Chris Remy

Production Company: Superprime

Director: Mike Bernstein
Cinematographer: Michal Dabal
Executive Producer: Colleen O’Donnell
Executive Producer / HOP: Rodger Zorovich

Editorial: Cabin Editing
Editor: Lucas Spaulding
Producer: Michelle Dorch
Managing Partner: Carr Schilling

FInishing Sister Studios
EP: Sarah DiLeo
Producer: Lauren Gould
Colorist: Chris Martin


@TLStanleyLA terry.stanley@adweek.com T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.
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