Ad Space – In Which I Overthink Kayak

You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work, and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …

The Product: Online travel agency, Kayak

The Promotions:

The Pitch: Every genius idea you’ve ever had for making travel easier? We’ve had it first.

In general, it’s best not to think much about what the characters in a commercial do when the ad stops rolling.

Why did a bunch of young people travel to an isolated hilltop to sing about Coke, and how will they get home? How can Mac and PC be both computers and two human dudes? Why don’t some parents ever do anything about the Trix Rabbit harassing their kids? These questions are better left unasked.

But sometimes, the way an ad campaign’s set up, you just can’t help it.

Each of these ads, taken individually, is great. They convey what Kayak does, make it sound very impressive and must-have, and do it all with some fine humor that makes it stick in your head. They’re nothing spectacular, just well-crafted and effective advertising.

Except, by using the same actor in all three ads, I can’t help viewing them as occurring in a continuity.

First, the guy wakes up in the middle of the night, struck by a brilliant idea for an app that finds you the best deals on hotels, cars, and other travel necessities, like Kayak does for flights. When his … wife? girlfriend? … bedtime lady companion points out that that is what Kayak does, he misinterprets her as saying it’s like what Kayak does.

Then, we skip ahead, and he’s pitching his “innovative” new app to some investors. Appointments had to be made, conference rooms had to be reserved, that little sign that says “Canoe” had to be carefully drawn. A decent chunk of time must have passed between his 3 AM burst of inspiration and his attempt to raise funds for an invention that already exists.

And during that time, his lady friend did nothing else to dissuade him?

Like, once the sixteen second ad spot is over, and we’ve all had our chuckle at his lunkheadedness, why wouldn’t she tell him, “No, Kayak already helps people book cars and hotels”? It’s hard to see how he could misinterpret that. How did things get as far as him lining up investors without such a simple piece of information being conveyed?

I realize I’m overthinking the hell out of this, but dammit! If you give your commercials a story arc, these are the questions you get asked!