The steaks are high for RBC in new Avion campaign

January 16, 2014  |  Chris Powell  |  Comments

RBC Royal Bank is proving you can’t sell the steak without the drivel in a new campaign promoting its Avion travel rewards card.

The new campaign is built around a series of online videos that use the concept of “peak steak season” to humorously demonstrate the seemingly random rules applied to points redemption by rival travel rewards cards.

“It’s a portrayal of some of the frustrations that travelers have when they try and book their reward redemptions,” said Jennifer Howard, marketing head, cards and payments, for RBC Royal Bank in Toronto.

“The concept of peak travel periods is almost universal, whether you’re booking direct with an airline or trying to redeem points through a program,” she added. “It’s difficult to get access to seats during those key times of year.”

Howard said that frustration over seemingly arbitrary rules and regulations regarding points redemption is something that comes up often in customer research. RBC’s “Avioners,” however, are able to book any flight on any airline at any time, as long as there is a seat available. The campaign concept is what if everyday life came with such silly rules.

Each of the four one-minute videos opens on a couple at a restaurant. When the woman orders a steak, the waiter informs her that it will cost her significantly more to eat it now because it is “peak steak season” and the restaurant is all out of regular steaks.

When her bewildered husband asks the waiter how the restaurant comes up with such arbitrary prices, he directs their attention to one of four different – and goofy – scenarios featuring a rapper, a butcher, a male gymnast and a contortionist.

The campaign from BBDO is an extension of a series of radio ads that ran as part of a broader campaign for the RBC Avion card in the fall. “The reaction we got to the radio was so positive we thought bringing it to life in another channel made a ton of sense,” said Howard. “The approach really resonated with consumers because it was unexpected from a bank.”

The new leg of the campaign, which runs through Feb. 6, is entirely online. The media buy from M2 Universal includes space on popular destinations such as YouTube and Facebook, as well as banners and promoted ads.

Howard said that RBC is increasingly relying on social media to stand out from its competitors, with previous efforts in the space being seen by hundreds of thousands of people.

“There’s so much activity in the market right now, we just wanted to do something different,” she explained. “We wanted to ignite conversation, and social by its nature is a place where people share with each other. Because this campaign is so unexpected, the hope is that it would create that conversation.”

The Avion card has grown to more than 1 million users to its introduction 15 years ago.

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