In my branding courses at Kellogg, I spend a lot of time talking about how brands position themselves in the market. The topic is a bit theoretical at times. But this year we have a perfect positioning example on the Super Bowl: HomeAway, Inc.
When positioning a brand, a key question is its frame of reference. What is the brand, anyway? The frame defines the competitive set. For example, is the Financial Times a type of business newspaper (a narrow frame)? Or is it a source of news and information (a broad frame)?
HomeAway is a website where people can post their vacation homes to rent. This will be the company’s second stab at Super Bowl advertising. The question for HomeAway is this: should the company position itself as the best vacation rental website (a narrow frame)? Or should it communicate that renting a home is the best family vacation experience (a broad frame)?
For the Super Bowl, HomeAway decided to promote the latter and advertise the benefits of renting a home—a smart decision.
First, this strategy can build the business; home rentals are still a small market, so there is considerable upside in growing the entire category.
Second, by attacking hotels on the Super Bowl, HomeAway is establishing itself as the leader in the online home rental category.
Third, vacation home owners will value HomeAway’s efforts to drive interest in renting homes. In a sense, this strategy will provide two benefits for HomeAway: grow the category and build share versus other rental sites.
The campaign is creative and generally on strategy. You can see the teaser spot here:
My only issue is that the Ministry of Detourism doesn’t make a lot of sense. Staying in a rental house is still tourism, right? It just isn’t the correct name.
Strategically, though, HomeAway is on track.