Hotels.com Travels Back to 2019 BC (Before Covid-19) With a Warning of What’s to Come

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This time last year, if someone told you that in 2020 you’d live through a global pandemic, borders would close and grocery shoppers would physically fight over basic essentials like toilet paper, you’d think they were mad.

But 2020 has, by all measures, been an unpredictable year. Hotels.com makes light of the absurdity that is 2020 with a new ad that sees longtime brand character Captain Obvious get a visit in 2019 from himself—with warnings from the year ahead.

“I’m you from the future, here to warn you about 2020,” Captain Obvious says in the spot from agency Crispin Porter Bogusky. “Lets just say it gets a bit dramatic–there’s no toilet paper, no hand sanitizer, or sports, oh and trips are canceled.”

With a literal slap to the face (truly the most 2020 greeting you could possibly give to 2019), Captain Obvious of the future advises using free cancelation on Hotels.com “because no-one knows what the future holds.” As an extra kick in the gut, he then reveals a newly bald head underneath his cap.

CPB shot the ad on set–for the first time since the pandemic hit earlier this year–and wrapped it up in a 12-hour shoot. It was directed by CPB creative director Quinn Katherman—a 2019 honoree on Adweek’s Creative 100—with a maximum of eight people allowed on set at one time, while the rest of the CPB staffers and Hotels.com brand team joined virtually.

It follows on from a series of ads produced remotely under lockdown, including the comedy spot “Places”, which featured Captain Obvious looking back on favorite holiday destinations with nostalgia, “Social Distancing,” which (boldly for a travel company) urged people to stay home, and “Captain’s Log” exploring effects of prolonged isolation by having Captain Obvious do (relatable) video entries of his lockdown experience with the message “You’re not the only one losing it right now.”

Last year, Hotel.com explored that phenomenon of “hate liking” somebody’s vacation photos. You know–when you’re loving the content but at the same time it fills you up with envious rage.


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