I'm only moderately familiar with vacation rental exchange HomeAway.com because a few of my longtime friends use it to book the house for our annual ski weekend (outdoor hot tub absolutely mandatory!) But it looks like this online service is going to get a big boost in publicity: Not only will it be running a TV commercial during the Super Bowl, but the commercial will feature actors Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo in their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold from "National Lampoon's Vacation," the 1983 comedy about a holiday gone horribly awry.
A press release explains that the commercial is an intro to a whole Griswold-themed "microsite," complete with a "short film" as a promotion, and ensuing ad campaigns both on TV and online--which basically means that this whole thing cost a lot. Oh yeah, there's also a Clark Griswold Twitter account.
Is this awesome marketing, or 1997-worthy TechCrunch reporting a $1.5 billion valuation. The company's total roster of investors is Austin Ventures, Institutional Venture Partners, Redpoint Ventures, Technology Crossover Ventures and Trident Capital; its strategy for expansion, at least thus far, seems to have been to snap up smaller competitors. TechCrunch estimated its annual revenue at the time to be around $150 million.? Well, HomeAway isn't exactly a new entry to the market. The Austin, Texas-based company is heavily venture-backed, having raised a $49 million Series A in 2005; late in 2008, it raised a whopping $250 million, with
The rule of thumb for Super Bowl ads generally seems to be. So if HomeAway's goal is to become as much of a household name as Craigslist (which I speculate is probably its closest competitor), a well-executed Super Bowl ad may put them on the right track. That's a strategy that Hulu, needing recognition beyond the early-adopter set, with its --and 25 years earlier, it's that positioned it as a fierce upstart alternative to IBM.
Whether Clark Griswold can fill those shoes has yet to be seen.