Booking.com is playing on the idea that different holidays appeal to different parts of our identity in its latest advert, due to screen during the upcoming 11 February US Super Bowl. But has the online travel agency misjudged its approach this time?
Who is Tina Fey?
While many in Europe and elsewhere may be unfamiliar with comedian and performer Tina Fey, she’s a US entertainment veteran, a long-time cast member and writer for NBC’s Saturday Night Live, and creator of 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and known for her work on numerous hits, including Mean Girls, and for her feminist take on the world.
She now has a new role, heading up Booking.com’s latest campaign, led by the slogan “Book whoever you want to be”. Opening with Fey scrolling through holiday options on her phone, the commercial shows her and a series of well-known “body doubles” illustrating the idea that “with so many choices on Booking.com, there are so many Tina Feys I could be.”
These different options and different Tina Feys include her “splurging” on a Rodeo Drive hotel, retreating in a rustic cabin, and galloping wildly across open American terrain.
The campaign relies upon some insider knowledge of Tina Fey as an entertainment entity. Actors who have co-starred with her, such as 30 Rock cast member, Jack McBrayer, are also featured in the advert, rolling their eyes at her antics and exclaiming with amusement, “Oh Tina!”. But for anyone unfamiliar with Fey or her work, is the joke lost?
Misjudged and outdated?
And, the question must be asked, how well-judged are certain elements of the campaign? So-called “Splurgy Tina”, who books a hotel on Rodeo Drive, a two-mile long stretch of road in Beverly Hills, known as one of the most expensive streets in the world, struts past hotel staff holding a pink handbag, a miniature pet dog and bedecked with shopping bags in the other. Is this not an outdated and sexist view of how wealthy and empowered women enjoy spending their leisure time?
Meanwhile, portraying a woman who enjoys the great outdoors as a hairy bigfoot-type creature, is…problematic, to say the least.
It’s arguable however that Booking.com are simply playing to their audience. The adverts will screen during the Super Bowl after all, viewing figures for which are still skewed majority male, even if the gender imbalance has been shrinking in recent years. But just how the 75% of female respondents who now say they may watch the event will respond to Fey’s cliched personae remains to be seen.