2018 Brand Experience & Activation


Category C07. Customer Acquisition & Retention
Entrant ERNÖ Oslo, NORWAY
Idea Creation ERNÖ Oslo, NORWAY
Idea Creation 2 ERNÖ Oslo, NORWAY
Production ERNÖ Oslo, NORWAY
Name Company Position
Ulrik Solum Waagsether Ernö Copywriter
Sindre Veseth Foss Ernö Art Director
Pål Drage Ernö Strategist
Christina Langthon Ernö Project Manager
Thomas Parsli Ernö Digital Producer
Martin Fagerås Ernö UX Designer
Frederik Horn Ernö Account Manager
Marius Dønnestad Ernö Account Manager
David Richardson Ernö Designer
Carl-Erik Engelstad Ernö Designer
Marie Nilsson Ernö Designer
Kjetil Myhre Berge Ernö 3D/Motion Designer
Hanne Hollstedt Thon Hotels Marketing Manager
Ida Svenningsen Thon Hotels Campaign Manager
Lise Haugan Thon Hotels Marketing Consultant
Sheik Gohar Ali Thon Hotels Brand Manager
William Tomter Dekode Project Manager

Why is this work relevant for Brand Experience & Activation ?

The very core of the ThonTester campaigns idea, is the combination of Brand Experience and Activation. We invited the Norwegian people to spend a night for free at one of our hotels, in return for a written review of their experience. Then we used the participants reviews (experiences) as advertising – to show the Norwegian people that there are plenty of good reasons to visit a Thon Hotel. We created a closer bond with the 87 296 Norwegians that registered, and a memorable experience for the 2000 that got the chance to spend a night for free at our hotels.


In recent years, Thon Hotels, one of Norway’s leading hotel chains had invested NOK 1.4 billion in refurnishing their 70 hotels. Unfortunately, surveys showed that very few Norwegians were aware of this, and those who had never stayed at Thon Hotels still saw it as a boring, old fashioned hotel chain. This was in stark contrast to what those who have experienced Thon Hotels believed. Because they ranked the hotel chain very highly on the key drivers for choosing a hotel. In other words, there was a big gap between the market's perception, and the guests experiences. We were challenged to increase the Norwegian peoples' perception and preference of Thon Hotels.

Describe the creative idea

The creative idea was simple: To give the Norwegian people a chance to spend a night for free at one of our 70 hotels, in return for a written review of their experience – and then use the participants reviews as advertising, to tell the public about all the good reasons to choose Thon Hotels. By connecting the ThonTester campaign site to Thon Hotels' own booking system, we were able to use rooms that would otherwise have been empty.

Describe the strategy

The target audience was Norwegians over 18 who spends two or more nights annually at a hotel in Norway (1 465 000 Norwegians). The strategy was based on surveys that showed a stark contrast between those who were familiar with Thon Hotels (they ranked the hotel chain very highly on the key drivers), and those who hadn't experienced Thon Hotels (they saw it as boring and old fashioned). In other words, there was a big gap between the market's perception, and the guests experiences. We decided to take a calculated risk, and trust the fact that we had a much better product than most Norwegians perceived. So instead of telling the target group that our hotels where better than ever, we decided to invite them to see for themselves – and let them tell the story for us!

Describe the execution

In the first phase of the campaign we invited people to spend a night for free, in exchange for a written review of their experience. We knew the outcome would stand or fall on the basis of the employees efforts, so we made sure that they became an important part of the campaign. We made small films for social media, where members of the staff invited people to come visit, and recommended their hotel. Then we released 500 free rooms across our 70 hotels through thontester.no, on a first come, first served basis. once a week, over the course of a month After 2000 people had tested us, we spread a broad selection of the written reviews to tell the Norwegian people about all the good reasons to visit Thon Hotels. We reached people through Facebook, outdoor, radio, editorials in Norways biggest online newspaper (VG.no), banners and emails.

List the results

Business impact: - 45 % increase in digital turnover (March-May, 2018) - Thon Hotels is ranked number 1 in the Norwegian hotel marked, measured in Revenue Per Available Room (first six months of 2018) - 65 % of visits at thonhotels.no in the campaign period were new users Response rate/impressions: - 87 296 registered users at campaign site thontester.no - 288 861 unique visits (thontester.no) Change in behavior/consumer awareness: - 72 % understanding of communication - 20 % increase in Top of Mind - 22 % increase in preference - 22% increase in consideration - 46 % of participants would recommend Thon Hotels Internal effects: - 98 % of hotel managers were very satisfied with the campaign - 98 % of hotel managers felt increased pride working at Thon Hotels - 87 % of the hotels were convinced the campaign would make Thon Hotels more attractive to the public