Magazine article Marketing

BRAND HEALTH CHECK: Club 18-30 - Club 18-30 Faces Up to a Tarnished Reputation

Magazine article Marketing

BRAND HEALTH CHECK: Club 18-30 - Club 18-30 Faces Up to a Tarnished Reputation

Article excerpt

Club 18-30 has found itself under the media microscope thanks to incidents in Faliraki. Bookings increased, but the coverage may do long-term damage, reports Daniel Rogers.

Youth holidays, most notoriously in Faliraki, have been in the media spotlight for most of the summer.

The spectrum of coverage has ranged from apparently harmless Carry On-style antics to a man fatally stabbed in a bar brawl. Brands such as First Choice's 2wentys and Olympic Holidays have been drawn into the flak, but inevitably, as market leader, it is Thomas Cook's Club 18-30 that has been hit most often.

Three Club 18-30 reps were arrested in August for organising illegal bar crawls, which have been blamed for lewd behaviour in front of more mainstream holiday-makers.

The Greek authorities have also come down hard on British revellers in resorts such as Faliraki, making arrests for seemingly minor offences such as 'mooning'.

Of course, it is not the first time that Club 18-30 has been criticised.

There was a series of scandalous stories throughout the 80s and 90s, yet it remains a highly successful brand, effectively a generic for this category of holidays.

Indeed, there is evidence that such publicity boosts sales for the brand.

Club 18-30 marketing manager Clare Burns said sales for September, usually a fallow period, had picked up massively following a double-page spread about one resort's kinky antics in The Sun a few weeks ago.

The operator has always used sex to sell its wares.

The most recent campaign showed holiday-makers in suggestive poses. But with such a torrent of bad news this year, including arrests, will the brand suffer in the long term?

Rival operators are already reporting a fall in 'top-end' business from Faliraki, and Rhodes in general.

To canvas expert opinion from both sexes, we asked Gemma Richards, director of client services and sponsorship, European marketing partnerships at MTV Networks Europe, recently voted Britain's 'coolest' media brand (Marketing, August 21), and Neil Henderson, joint managing director at advertising agency St Luke's, whose accounts include the School Disco club and music brand.

DIAGNOSIS

NEIL HENDERSON

Club 18-30 is a brilliant brand, but it treads a dangerous line. It wants to sell excess, but must steer clear of selling law-breaking and ugly behaviour. And ultimately one doesn't come without a bit of the other.

Too much bad news and it will end up with a highly undesirable clientele and little support from the destination authorities.

Loud, rowdy and sex-fuelled is OK for a brand. …

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