Expedia's journey through darkness into light continues.
The travel site isn't shying away from big, difficult topics in its "Find yours" campaign from 180 LA. Back in October, it unleashed a powerful long-form spot endorsing gay marriage through the story of a father who tells of the long journey he took to understand his lesbian daughterbut not before he almost disowned her. Now, the brand has released an even more gut-wrenching spotthe three-minute film below starring Maggie Cupit, a cancer survivor who offers an almost unbearably poignant reminiscence of ayoung friends named Odie.
Odie was 13 when they met. They were both patients at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Maggie fought back her cancer and became healthy; Odie died from his cancer. In the spot, Maggie is seen traveling to Dallas for a St. Jude's fundraiser, where she tells Odie's storyremembering their incredible bond, and in particular his almost superhuman fearlessness in the face of a viciously untimely death. Like the earlier spot, this one is about more than one kind of trip. It relates a physical journey and an emotionally transformative one at the same timewhich is Expedia's larger point about all kinds of travel. "Find your understanding" was the tagline on the earlier spot. This one ends with "Find your strength."
It's a commercial that frankly bowls you over. It will have its enemies who will say it's exploitative. But in fact it feels like the opposite. It's a story that deserves to be heard by as many people as possibleit was created in collaboration with St. Jude's and thus is also a de facto PSAand if Expedia wants to tell it, and tie a brand positioning to it, that's not the worst thing in the world. And even if it is opportunistic, it nevertheless has a tangible charitable aspect. Over at the Expedia website, the company is matching donations to St.Jude's up to $250,000.
In the wilds of uncertainty, pain and loss, these Expedia ads suddenly discover redemption. That's a significant accomplishmentand not out of character at all for a company that helps you see everything the world has to offer.