Countless travel brands claim that they have created a “viral video”, bizarrely often before it has even hit the information superhighway.
Sure, some clips – especially those of the airline in-flight safety video kind – manage to capture a few million views on YouTube.
But this year’s genuine hit so far has been the DNA Journey campaign from European travel search engine Momondo.
To its credit, Momondo steered well away from any obvious branding throughout, except for a banner at the end, instead it collaborated with family tree organisation Ancestry to pull together a brilliant five minutes of thoughtful, heartwarming messaging around the discovering where we, as human beings, are from.
The pair spoke to 67 people, each from different cultures and backgrounds, then did some analysis of their genetic make-up.
Momondo says its reasons for starting the campaign were to “start a conversation about how travel can break down boundaries between people, and the whole idea was to use DNA tests as a tool to show how we have much more in common than we think. We had never expected it to resonate with so many people”.
Julie Pedersen, global head of PR and social media at Momondo, says the goal was also not to generate traffic to the site.
“Our ambition was to put a focus on travel’s ability to increase tolerance and openness in the world, spark a debate and to position momondo as a purpose-driven travel brand.”
The company, four months on from the clip’s release, admits that the end result (countless commentary, shares, goodwill, etc) “far exceeded” any expectations it had for the campaign.
Its managing director, Pia Vemmelund, was even invited to talk about the campaign and the reasons behind it at a TEDx talk this week in Fryslan.
So, what are some of the datapoints associated with the campaign?
Pedersen says the latest viewer count (YouTube, Facebook, third party pages and its own microsite) has reached a mind-boggling 175 million.
On YouTube there are 4,200 comments on the clip and the company’s Facebook page has grown at almost double the rate than before the clip was aired (currently 1.8 million fans).
Momondo says it experienced a “strong uptick” in traffic on the days following its launch (45% increase on June 3, 43% on June 4), with the uplift coming from new visitors to the site.
Yet, while it is easy to be cynical about any kind of marketing, Momondo clearly knows that it hit the jackpot with this campaign, perhaps not from a commercial perspective, but from one where it has demonstrated how travel can (hopefully) open a person’s eyes to take a wider view of what’s beyond their own borders.
“We’ve seen travellers, universities, organisations and celebrities engage with the campaign and present it as an antidote to prejudice, discrimination, hate and violence.”
Probably a Cannes Lion award in the offing, pleasing the ad execs – but Momondo probably wouldn’t care either way.