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Hotels.com Books 'Smart' Animation

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Young & Rubicam's first work for Hotels.com features an animated spokesperson called "Smart," voiced by actor Ed Helms, "Andy" on NBC's The Office.

Tagged "Smart. So Smart," the campaign includes four commercials directed by Peter Peake of Aardman Animations, the Bristol, U.K.-based creators of the popular "Wallace and Gromit" franchise.

The first spot in the series touts the online hotel booking site's "Welcome Rewards" program with "Smart" impressing his wife with a beach vacation booked on Hotels.com. Follow-up ads will focus on free booking offered through the site's call center and the fact that Hotels.com does not charge cancellation or changing fees.

"In the undifferentiated space of online travel, Hotels.com has always been known as an innovator with respect to its product and services, so it's only fitting that we take that innovative spirit and apply it to advertising with work that is designed to break through," said Vic Walia, senior director of brand marketing at Hotels.com. "I think clay animation, in the quintessential Aardman-style that millions of fans around the world have come to know and love, is exactly what we need to bring our message and our spokesperson, Smart, to life."

The push also includes print, digital, radio, outdoor and ambient efforts.

Y&R, Chicago, won the account in March after the Dallas-based client reviewed ideas from Y&R and the company's previous agency, TBWA\Chiat\Day, New York.

Hotels.com spent $37 million in major measured media (excluding online) in 2008, according to Nielsen. In the first four months of this year, the online hotel-booking site spent $12 million.

Nielsen Business Media 

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