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No strings, please: Expedia Canada ad falls flat

After the screeching of a recent Expedia Canada ad got on some nerves, the company responded with a violin-smashing comeback.

Like many travel companies, Expedia Inc.'s bread and butter is capitalizing on the horrors of winter. Its latest "escape winter" campaign is no exception. Just before Christmas, Expedia Canada launched a new commercial featuring a man looking at snow, scarves and parkas – all accompanied by a Hitchcock-style, screeching violin.

The problem? Consumers hated it.

The ad was in heavy rotation thanks to "bonuses" (extra ad time broadcasters occasionally give for free in order to deliver a bigger audience), according to its ad agency, Grip Limited. The screeching got on some nerves, and viewers lashed out with unflattering comments on social media.

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So this month, Expedia launched a reply campaign: buying TV time for a commercial featuring the violin being thrown in the snow. It's an interesting demonstration of how brands in a digital age are recognizing the need to respond directly when consumers are unhappy. Expedia also posted videos online: In one, the ad's actor destroys the instrument; in another, a man who had complained on Twitter was given the chance to smash one as well. Sadly, actual violins were harmed in the making of the commercials. In a further act of penance, Expedia made a donation to the Kiwanis Music Festival of Greater Toronto.

Good directions matter

People may be constantly distracted by their phones, but that can be a boon for marketers in the real world. According to a new consumer behaviour study from Kantar and DAC Group, consumers' online searches (both on mobile devices and computers) are a powerful influence on their shopping decisions. But the online survey of just over 2,000 Canadians also found that not all businesses are managing their presence in search results: The study found an increase, compared to last year, in mobile users who said they had found business information online that was inaccurate.

Some of the other findings:

60 per cent: Canadians who search for information about local businesses at least once a week

65 per cent: Canadians who go straight to a store to buy something after searching for information on a mobile device.

86 per cent: Canadians who said reviews of local businesses affect their decisions about where to buy things.

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40 per cent: Mobile users in Canada who said they found inaccurate information when they searched for a business online.

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