Not the wurst Thursday ever!

On Thursday 8th June, we headed to Berlin to present our ‘Diwurstity’ campaign to a panel of judges at the Deutscher Preis Für Online Kommunikation. We had been shortlisted in the Employer Branding category. You won’t believe what happened next…

I don’t usually write these blog posts in the first person, but I think it will make a bit more sense in this context. I’m smiling as I write this, accounting a whirlwind couple of days where a project I was involved in overcame some serious odds and amazing competition to take home a prize. Even more satisfying is the fact this was our very first attempt at a campaign like this.

You may ask yourself, how did I get here?

A month or so back, we learned we had been shortlisted for an award, for a campaign we decided to run in the wake of the US presidential election. At the time we identified that the president elect was championing some policies that weren’t exactly aligned with the values we instill at trivago. We saw an opportunity to reach out to our friends in the US and raise awareness of the possibility to escape to Germany, and come and work with us.

Diversity plays a huge part in our make-up at trivago. We have over 50 different nationalities working together in our team of approx 1400 people. We believe that the more differing opinions and angles you have on something, the better the ‘data-set’ available to draw the best conclusions from.

Our MD Rolf was recently quoted in an interview with Kara Swisher from Recode, saying:

“The success of trivago is due to the success of immigration”.

Attraction team, assemble!

Our Employer Branding team is pretty small (5 people) and this initiative was the catalyst for our first real “campaign”.

Together with my TA colleague Alena, we formed a small task-force group with a couple of designers; Anna and Dawn, and Sydney and Bianca from Corporate Comms. We started brain storming the messages we wanted to convey in this campaign.

There was a lot of hate and vitriol flying around on the subject at the time, online and in print media, that we really didn’t want to add any fuel to that fire. We didn’t want to be gimmicky or antagonistic, so we decided to take a light-hearted approach to the concept.

Of course, we could have been intentionally controversial, and lean heavily on one side to gain more attention. However, we thought it was a little hypocritical to preach about diversity, and then completely go against someone else’s personal beliefs, even if they may differ from our own.

So we just decided to be a little bit cheeky.

There were a lot of things that didn’t make the cut, and for me it felt criminal to leave out some top quality ‘word-play’ (puns), but we eventually drilled it down to 4 key creatives.

We decided on two main criteria for the ads; the juxtaposition of two bold opposing images, and some witty puns. To be honest, the visuals and the copy couldn’t have been conceived without one another, and it was a running collaboration between Design and my own copywriting, that helped us achieve the complimentary feel between the images and the words.

I won’t go into too many details on the individual creatives, they pretty much speak for themselves.

(I am aware that the Designs do not ‘pop’ as much as they should in these Facebook snapshots, so if you want to see them in their full glory, I will include them at the bottom of this article).

1. We build code not walls

2. Knead a change?

3. Stop wigging out!

4. We’re not adwurst to diwurstity

The presentation

I travelled to Berlin early in the morning with Sarah, our internal comms specialist. She was coming along to support, document the day, and help me run through my presentation during the cross-country train ride. The day got off to an unexpected start when we found out we were actually on different trains, from Düsseldorf and Cologne, but thanks to Slack we managed to get by remotely.

We finally met IRL, and arrived together at the Quadriga Forum to check in and get the program. We surveyed the competition and we were in some pretty good company! The best agencies in the country were here at the awards, and it suddenly became apparent we had maybe underestimated how big a deal this was, and how were just kind of, ‘winging it’.

We were the epitome of casual, some teams had really gone to an effort to dress accordingly. The fact that Darth Vader was presenting a Star Wars pitch for Disney just before us made us question whether we really should have been in Hot-Dog suits, or come as ketchup and mustard.

The panel was made up of some top people from the German online sector, with representatives from Liebherr, Henkel, Vodafone and others.

As myself and Sarah are from England and Canada respectively, we were the only team on the day presenting in English (I offered to present in German but told them I may need more than 8 minutes…).

All the panel had a good understanding of English and, thankfully, most of the content of the ads were not lost on them. I explained the concept, process and and the success of the campaign. There were a couple of the puns that needed further explanation but, overall, there were still a lot of smiles in the room.

We left feeling pretty neutral, even if a little nerve-wracking the presentation went well. In all honesty, we were happy to be nominated, and had no serious expectations to go any further in the competition.

We went for a debrief over a nice coffee and the best carrot cake in Berlin at Father Carpenter’s cafe. We then went our separate ways, back to our respective residencies to ‘get ready’ for the evening’s presentation and party.

Fail to prepare, prepare to win?…

My ‘getting ready’ consisted of dropping off my laptop at the hotel and pretty much turning straight back out.

I just had to send a quick Whatsapp to my German team-mate Matthias. I asked him for a favour (that favour being to translate an acceptance speech, you know, just in case) then in a split-second decided against it.

I thought; if I get an acceptance speech translated, and learn it, there’s no way we are going to win. He didn’t reply until the next day anyway so a fat lot of good he would have been 😉

So, I dropped my bag, decided against preparing myself for victory, and headed straight back out. Sarah and I had agreed to meet a couple of hours later at the venue, Kino International. As the weather was pleasant, I decided to indulge myself in the hours walk across the city to take in some of the sites.

I put the address into my Gmaps: Karl-Marx Straße 33. And off I set. 55 minutes walk will leave me with a good 15 minutes to spare.

It was a really nice walk through a wonderful city. We’d had a great day and the hard part was over. All we had to do was get to the venue, have a few beers and make some new friends.

I arrived at Karl-Marx Straße 33 just before 8pm, only, it didn’t look like an auditorium. No, this place was definitely a Shisha Bar…

I checked my program again. Ahhhh… Karl-Marx Allee 33! Shit. I thought it must be close, right? Nope. Right across the city back the way I came. Idiot.

I panicked, ran across roads like a headless chicken trying desperately to flag down any passing cab. Eventually, I was lucky. I got in the cab and told the driver the address, as soon as he heard it he knew what I had done.

A little flustered I eventually arrived at the venue about 1 minute late. People were still going in. Crisis averted. Wasn’t even worried…

As we sat and watched the first few winners announced, the excitement crept in. Sarah turned to me and said “Are you ready to win? ‘cos I think, we just might…”

She was right. We totally did! You can see a few snippets of our (completely unprepared obviously…) “acceptance speech” below:

Okay, so we won an award for our campaign. Awards are cool, and it was a great experience. But that wasn’t why we did it on the first place.

What else did we win?

As it was our first test campaign in TA, it was on a pretty small scale, with a small test budget, which make the results even more satisfying.

During the time of our campaign our applications from the US rose over 100%, and are higher now than they ever were before!

…and since the campaign began, and up until today, we have hired even more new talents from America!

It has been a win, win, win!

Lee Jones
Lee Jones

Lee Jones is a Conceptual Copywriter and Employer Branding Specialist at trivago.

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