Well, not new as in new, really, since the Roaming Gnome has been Travelocity's mascot since 2004. Do you associate it automatically with the company? I don't, but it seems to be able to sell them for a profit. It has the requisite MySpace page, and its own website.
The ads insert the little statue into its most desired vacations, and does so as any red-blooded 10 yr-old would do: it gets thrown down a mountainside, frozen solid in a wall of ice, etc. Supposedly the jovial icon screams and yells and quips sarcastically. The punchline remains "you’ll never roam alone."
I can totally relate.
When I was 10 (or so), we used to build plastic models of tanks, fighter planes, and warships, with the sole intent to blow them up with firecrackers, throw them off the roof of our building, or setting them afire as they floated in a full bathtub. This was pure juvenile (unadult-erated) fun, and I remember it all with great joy.
The new ads make me think it might be fun to similarly torture or destroy the Roaming Gnome. Especially if it talks and can cry out in pain. I have no idea what it has to do with booking travel online, however.
Let's say my inner-pre-teen actually recalls one of the gnome abuse spots...what am I supposed to do with that recognition?
- Is there some special service that Travelocity is offering (like a "be a kid again" adventure booking service)?
- Should I use Travelocity because it gets better fares, or has a better service for letting me cancel or change my bookings without getting a bloody nose?
- Can it tell me something meaningful beyond prompting me to chuckle maniacally at the statuette's misfortune?
Nope. It's just branding.
There are any number of online tools for booking travel, but I'm supposed to remember and then ultimately use Travelocity because I want to punish its little mascot.
Am I a dim bulb, or does this smack of lazy, imperfectly conceived business strategy, if it's a business strategy at all?
I'm sure there are any number of ways the company can measure exposure, engagement, or exploitation of its Roaming Gnome. Whether there are any casual links to sales, or repeat purchase or, gasp!, customer loyalty, well, that's not the purview of the brand gurus, I guess. Three cheers for their loyalty to purchasing gnome schwag, but that's not the point, is it?
So go ahead and gnome if you want to. I'll bring the firecrackers.