Art vs. Commerce

There is a new film – Wonderland – that features commercial directors talking about the difference between true creativity/art and commercial work. Bottom line from the film is that they find commercial work to be anything but artistic.

I have worked with a number of directors on commercials. Many of them went on to do feature films. Others were doing feature films when I started to work with them. From my experience, the best of these directors treat commercial film the same way they would treat an artistic film. The ones who didn’t did boring, lifeless commercial work. The ones who treated it as a piece of them and gave the endeavor their artistic soul always made better work.

Is a commercial work purely creative? NO, of course not. Many times in Wonderland they talk about the restrictions that clients and agency people put on the work. They talk about the money behind the work and how that affects it. Basically, they talk about how they can’t do whatever they want and how that differs greatly from artistic work where they decide what the subject and tone of the work is.

Having read both Coppola’s biography and numerous stories about Orson Wells and other film directors – I can tell you that projects with complete creative control do not always come out better than those where studios dictate a number of the decisions. Directors such as Woody Allen and Spielberg tend to have more control than other directors – and their films do feel more like art than some other films. But I am not convinced that having less control – they won’t make great work. They are great directors. They made great work when they had less control … they just didn’t like it as much. It is harder. It is frustrating. But if they didn’t make great work in the first place with studio collaboration, they would have never had the control the have now. So what comes first – the chicken or the egg?

It is easy to say that when it’s someone else’s idea, there is no art in it. Art comes from the heart and experience. It’s something that garners emotion from the viewer. Commercial work is not that different. … Commercial work comes from a brand heart. The experience is that of the brand and the creatives, while the emotion is felt by the consumer. And make no mistake – creating an emotional tie to a piece of work is extremely important for a brand. Without the emotion, there is no relationship with the brand. And that is basically what a brand is – the relationship with the consumer.

There is a reason why creative directors hire film directors to work on their commercial endeavors. They want art infused into their commercial piece. This is no easy task. The voice of the brand and the client are always repeating rules and strategies even in the most creative creative directors. There is no way around it. But when you add that voice of the artist to the project, you get a voice more concerned with the emotion than the voices in their heads. The best film directors will fight with the creative director to make that art. And the best creative directors will let go of some things and fight for others that he/she knows are necessary for the communication. In the end, the project will become a commerce/art collaboration.

Sometimes the balance goes more toward commerce and sometimes more toward art. Sometimes, the emotion that comes from the art transfers to the brand and sometimes the brand overshadows the emotion created by the art. The best of these collaborations gives you both a brand communication and emotion.

If you look at the two ads below, you will see both art and commerce in them. “Stiff Upper Lip” is as close to some modern art as you will ever get in a television ad. It is mysterious, weird, and definitely pulls different emotions from the viewer like any modern art piece. There are those who don’t understand it, those who love it and many who hate it … but they can’t stop looking at it. And I would say the commercial is art until the commerce ending. I would say the same for the POM Wonderful spot. If you turned off the sound and cut off the product at the end, it’s a very artful piece of film. The composition, beauty, interest and emotion are all there with a product at the end or not.

Also, the digital landscape has opened up the creative avenues tenfold. Think about it. … Now there are brand films where artists are asked to interpret the brand. They are given more freedom because the cost of such films is less and a certain freedom is expected on the Web that isn’t expected as much on television. And, of course, Web films need an authenticity to be shared – and that authenticity means more art than commerce.

Then there is the whole definition of what art is in the first place and how it came to be. Art from the beginning was not always meant to be art. As a form of expression, it has changed with the times. And often, great art was commissioned from great artists. How is getting a portrait of yourself painted different from having a commercial done for your brand? There are obviously rules for both subjects. The artist can’t paint a portrait of someone else when you paid for a portrait of YOU … although a portrait from Picasso might look like someone else – depending on your perspective. The beginnings of art come from telling a story, almost a journal, of early man’s adventures during hunting season 30,000 years ago. These early paintings on caves could well have been advertisements. “Check out Mogu. … He is best at finding meat. He has big weapons. He has a cool cave. Wild animals and women fall at his feet.” Painted by Gred. Gred lives outside Mogu’s cave on a rock. But he paints a mean story about Mogu.

The first artists lived by a set of rules as to how they painted subjects. When they broke those rules, then the needle of art moved. And along the timeline, more rules were broken and art moved again. This is very close to the commercial world, where the rules are continually broken and changing – especially with the advent of a digital landscape that continues to evolve commerce and art as well.

This excerpt says it all. …

“… the lessons of Egyptian art had not simply been discarded and thrown overboard. Greek artists still tried to make their figures as clear in outline as possible, and to include as much of their knowledge of the human body as would go into the picture without doing violence to its appearance. They still loved firm outlines and balanced design. They were far from trying to copy any casual glimpse of nature as they saw it. The old formula, the type of human form as it had developed in all these centuries, was still their starting point. Only they no longer considered it sacred in every detail.” – E.H. Gombrich, The Story of Art

That is what a great director does for a piece of commerce. They don’t regard a brand’s rules as sacred in every detail. They are still working from the strategy. They are still trying to get across the right message for the brand. … But the things you hold onto as sacred about your brand … are not in the mind of that director. If he’s good, he’ll try and get you to break some sacred cow that sits in your mind, grazing away at the grey matter. Once that happens – anything is possible. …

 

Politics and marketing make strange bedfellows

If you talk to any good creative they will tell you politics and good marketing don’t go together. They will tell you that there are too many formulas for political advertising … and that it is tough to be really creative. I have seen both sides. Some really creative political work; lots of formula work; and some really bad work (especially in the last election). And in my career, I have done all three. In the new movie NO, a desperate situation leads to creative marketing with almost a Pepsi-like political campaign. When Chile is faced with the daunting task of ousting its longtime leader, the powers that be decide they have to take risks. So, they do. And, surprise, it works. By taking risks, I mean treating the candidate or party like an agency would treat an actual brand. It doesn’t happen very often. Political marketing people think they are building a brand but, for the most part, they are just using formulas, like putting him or her with the family, showing them with the right peeps and reacting to what the other candidate or party does. And, of course, counting the lies. That is pretty much a proven route to at least a reasonably close campaign.

Obama did it right in his first election by creating the CHANGE brand. His platform was as intriguing as he was. The second time around, his brand was basically, I AM NOT ROMNEY. Which worked also because he was on the right side and he had very sophisticated polling methods. Sometimes that’s all you need. Well, that and a talking horse. You really can’t go wrong with a wealthy talking horse ad.

Ad So what about when brands pick sides? We just did a piece for our client (the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority) that played off of the NSA controversy. The ad is featured here and did pretty well, garnering more than 10 times its cost in earned media. That is media earned from the publicity – not from paying to have something placed in media. Afterward, I listened to an interview with Stuart Elliott from The New York Times where he intimated that as long as it’s a one-time thing and Las Vegas doesn’t pick sides … it’s cute and fun. I may be putting words in his mouth, but he seemed to be saying that brands like Vegas can have fun with current events but not become an active part in them – at least a brand like Vegas.

At R&R, we pride ourselves on Building and Protecting the brands we work for. And there are no other agencies in the country that have a marketing arm and a political arm that are both successful in what they do to the level we are. But even around here, it’s an interesting argument. Can a brand pick a side on a public issue and ride with it … or is politics too serious and a brand like Vegas too fun? Will some of that serious issue taint the brand or will the issue turn and the brand suffer? Or are big issues just to negative and a brand like Vegas too positive? It usually makes for a really long meeting.

It’s a tough one. The truth of the Vegas brand is Adult Freedom. That is what led to What happens here, stays here® and most of what happens with the brand. That puts Vegas clearly on the side of privacy and all the freedoms that allows. Vegas is a place where you can do and be what you can’t at home – and no one will judge you. Seems pretty clear that Vegas is on the side against the NSA, whether it’s done in a fun way or a more serious way. Of course, the NSA has its own WHHSH aspects. I recently read a piece where a man tries to get a record of the information the NSA has on him through the FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT. The NSA responded by telling him that they can’t send him that information because they can’t reveal that they have it. That would be a risk to national security. Vegas is kind of the same way … if you tell on one person, everyone is in danger.

Comedians don’t stop until it’s not funny anymore. I use The Daily Show and The Colbert Report as a measure of what still has play and what doesn’t. But you could really use any late night talk show. Or you could just do a Google search, watch the chatter on Twitter. There are a million ways to see if something is still a story. Later this month, the head of the NSA is speaking here … so really the story is just building and building. So there is still play in the NSA.

whathapOne of the tweets I continue to see on Twitter is “What happens in Vegas, stays in an NSA database.” This is being passed around continually. It might actually be gaining momentum as a tweet meme. And some would argue a tweet like that is dangerous to the LVCVA brand. Whether you like it or not, social media erodes What happens here, stays here. That’s why we came up with the #knowthecode campaign in the first place. With so much being shared online, the whole WHHSH claim seems suspect. Las Vegas has to protect that … R&R has to protect that. But is there a cost to going too far in the real world versus the marketing world? Or is there any difference anymore? Has the social media world brought the two so close together that there are fewer lines between them? And is there a danger of a brand looking like it is taking itself too seriously

This isn’t really new. We have done this sort of thing before. When Biden said something he shouldn’t have, we commented. When Obama said something detrimental about Vegas, we shot back. We defended Prince Harry. But we didn’t go too far. We stayed in the brand’s voice and made it a short blast and not a continued effort. And we aren’t the only people doing it. A lingerie brand played off the NSA thing with a message to Snowden … again, pretty much a one-time shot. And a number of brands are defending the LGBT issues in this country … Oreo has done a fantastic job of this.

And in Brazil, protesters are picking and choosing brands to use against the government by their slogans. “Come to the street,” a Fiat slogan used to celebrate the Confederations Cup soccer championship, and “The Giant woke up,” a slogan for Johnnie Walker in Brazil, have both been seen on signs and on Twitter.

What if we do go too far? I guess there is always the danger of going so far that we are all arrested and put in a very dark cell where no one will ever find us. It would be hard to put the whole city of Vegas in such a cell, but certain R&R folk could disappear and no one would be the wiser. I am always looking over my shoulder. Then there is the danger of Vegas seeming un-American. What is more American than total self-gratification for a weekend? Nothing. I know this from personal experience as an American who does a lot of selfing. And there is the risk of losing U.S. government conventions and meetings that are held here. Nah … politicians enjoy selfing way too much.

I would love your opinion on this. Are brands separate from the issues of the people? Is there a responsibility to become part of the conversation? Is it dangerous for a brand to speak too loudly on an issue even if it fits the truth of that brand? Let me know … I am listening.

This message was brought to you by THE COMMITTEE FOR A FREE LAS VEGAS.

Why Brands Should Start Swinging with Vine

Currently, 87% of U.S. marketers are using video as means of content marketing. And in the next five years, mobile video is expected to present 66% of global mobile data traffic, so it’s only natural to expand our platforms to include mobile.

So, what is Vine?

Vine is a mobile app from Twitter that allows you to create GIF-like looping videos with audio – similar to Instagram – but with video. By setting limitations of six seconds of footage and character limit of 140, Vine inspires creativity in clearly communicating a message in an ephemeral video. Since its launch in January, Vine has been topping this list of free iPhone apps in the app store.

Here’s a great post from Mashable on how to use Vine to create and share videos.

How is Vine being used now?

Both brands and celebrities have been using Vine as a platform for engagement. Recording artist Jason Derulo used Vine to promote his new single, “The Other Side,” encouraging fans to create Vines using clips of the song (provided on his site) and upload them using the hashtag #TheOtherSide. The best clips will then be loaded into a special fan video for the song.

Last month, Vine launched trending hashtags, making exploration of content even easier. Trending hashtags display to users the Vines that are rising the fastest in popularity, not just the most popular overall.

How should you use Vine?

Before you begin Vining for your brand, a clear objective for your video is key. Here are 3 important things to remember:

1)     Have only ONE message to get across. Attempting to employ multiple messages will make the video choppy, messy, and confusing to the viewer.

2)     Make sure your description is clearly stated in one concise sentence, covering what you hope viewers will get from your vine.

3)     Keep it simple and most importantly, have fun!

From a brand perspective, Vine is a great app for visual storytelling that adds value to the brand. If executed correctly, a brand’s Vine will contain the simple core message in a visual manner that will result in high consumption. Here is a great example from Gap:

What shoes do you plan to wear with The 1969 Skimmer? #gap #denimevolved

There are many ways for brands to use Vine, such as:

-          Engage followers in conversation

-          Feature brand supporters/ambassadors

-          Promote work for a client

-          Excite followers about a new product

-          Educate

-          Amuse

-          Tell the brand’s story

-          Advertise or host a contest

How can you measure Vine activity?

Concerned about analytics? Rest assured, there are already companies out there tracking stats for Vines. Simply Measured offers free Vine analytics (for Twitter accounts with up to 10,000 followers) that tracks the popularity of your Vine account.

So how do you plan on using Vine for your clients?

Did 2012 live up the political hype? Yes!

As we are currently in the first political window of 2013 in Las Vegas and dealing with make-goods and LUR’s (lowest unit rate)….let’s review 2012.  We were all warned going into 2012 that it was going to be a strong year politically, with record breaking spend, etc.  Did it live up to the hype?

Short answer: Yes.  Additionally, both presidential campaigns spent heavily on advertising in Nevada and Colorado with Las Vegas and Denver media markets seeing the most presidential political advertising. According to the Washington Post and Kantar Media, Nevada as a whole saw $55 million in total TV political ad spend with Las Vegas (ranked #40 Nielsen TV market) accounting for $46 million. Colorado reached $73 million total TV ad dollars, with Denver (ranked #17) racking up $59 million of that take. See political TV advertising spend broken down by state and by candidate for the 2012 election with this interactive map!

The Wesleyan Media Project reports that in 2012, TV viewers were bombarded with more than 3 million ads related to the presidential and congressional elections.  Overall, there was a 33% increase in the number of ads and 81% increase in spend compared to the 2008 election.  While local news is always impacted heavily by political advertising and is the main focus, the Obama campaign also focused on talk and reality shows and niche cable networks more so than the Romney campaign. This explains why the Obama campaign was able to spend $4 million less in TV ad dollars in the Las Vegas market than his counterpart Romney, yet receive five thousand more total ads. This could very well have proved a critical strategy in Obama’s win of the crucial swing state of Nevada.

The TVB reports that local TV stations captured over 80% of total television spending in the political category during the 2012 season.  “Television stations total political revenue, in the face of increased competition, from new and social media, continues to boast a high growth rate: $1.5 billion in 2008, $2.1 billion in 2010 (+35%) and $2.9 billion in 2012 (+38%).”

Obama spent more on social campaigning than his counterpart by 10 to 1.  Obama spent a whopping 47 million dollars to target key constituents nationwide.

It was clear that the focus was much more important for the Obama campaign for driving voters to influence and create actions. Building this community proved vital as President Obama had more Facebook fans, more Twitter followers and more YouTube views than Romney.

So it appears that in the political TV and new/social media advertising game during the 2012 election, the Obama Campaign clearly had the smarter strategies. However both party lines continue to show the same trend with increasing their advertising spend each election year.

Pamela Payne and Cameron Partridge contributed to this article.

Contact, Content and the Consumer

According to a recent BtoB Magazine research study, in 2013, B2B marketers will likely spend on the channels they think are effective in getting content in front of prospects.  Of those surveyed by B2B Magazine, 93% said they would be updating their website as this was their highest source of information sharing.

The New YorkerBut no matter what, a flashy website will only work for so long.   And as cliché as it sounds, content is King.  And The New Yorker is continuing to build its empire.  Over the past several years, The New Yorker has launched numerous new Web channels and looks to continue the trend in the next couple of months with the launch of a Science and Technology channel as well as a Business channel.  The Science and Tech channel will expand the number of blog posts from writers such as Ken Auletta, Gary Marcus and Tim Wu.  While the Business hub will feature more infographics and video content and will feature the magazines most popular writers such as Malcolm Gladwell.

Another established brand looking to reinvigorate itself is NPR.  With the birth of digital radio, the organization is launching its first advertising campaign in four markets to push its digital radio assets this month in four markets: Dallas, Indianapolis, Orlando and San Diego.  The campaign will run for three months and include TV, billboards, transit, print and digital advertising and will be funded by a grant from the Ford Foundation.  While it doesn’t rely on advertising for support, NPR understands the importance of maintaining relevancy to its current audience and the need to expand its digital offerings to complete with the number of digital radio formats now available.

The Season

Powerful ads during the Big Game were remembered by some, but just a little more than a week after the game, most of us have forgotten most of the ads. Even with the power of social media and the YouTube Ad Blitz after the game, some brands scored bigger than others. Which poses the question: Is the game a platform for brands to kick off a campaign or a platform for one-offs.

The most forgotten spot is Audi’s Prom. It’s also one of the most conceptually sound spots in the Big Game. Who hasn’t thought back to that prom or dance where they did or didn’t grab that moment? The brand that lost its way was Coke. Coke is supposed to bring happiness to everyone. Making happiness a dog-eat-showgirl competition is not their brand. The best ads were Mercedes Benz Soul and Miracle Stain. They both had everything I need for a great commercial … a great epic story line, fantastic performances, and a communication at the end that seals an emotional tie to the message and the brand. Still, with all that money and talent, a tweet got the most play.

One note … even the worst advertisers during the Super Bowl reap the benefits. For many brands, awareness is a win-win, even if the ad is being touted as a disaster. Century 21 gets talked about for two weeks before the game and gets Web and customer traffic to make just being in the broadcast worth it even though the ads end up at the bottom of most lists. There are many other brands that feel the same way. Look at Audi. They had a pretty good ad and believe that a TV buy in the Super Bowl is the best way to go year after year … because it works.

It seems that, unlike the game itself, for most brands, the Super Bowl ad competition doesn’t end at the final whistle. Brands are clearly hopeful that their campaign kickoffs lead to long returns with their consumers.

The Big Game gets social

Advertisers spend a lot of money each year during, before and after the big game, especially for the expensive in-game TV spots. Now that we have had almost 24 hours to digest the plethora of creative ideas, the ones that we are talking about took place on social media channels.

Twitter is the unofficial king of the big game, where 24.1 million Tweets were sent out about the game and/or halftime show (this is without counting the ads as well).

The power outage alone generated around 231,500 TPM (tweets per minute), which is more than any other topic, including a 108-yard kickoff return by Jacoby Jones at 185,000 TPM.

Brands saw an opportunity to take advantage of a situation that was unexpected. Oreo, Duracell and Tide all capitalized on one of the important pieces of social, which is timeliness.

Oreo managed to engage users with the following tweet:

Very impressive numbers, with 15,260 retweets and 5,428 favorites on tweet that probably took no more than 15 minutes to push live on its social channels.

And Duracell managed to score an “extra point” when the lights were out as well.

Just 45 minutes after Dodge ran its “Farmer” spot, there were a total of 402k social media comments about the spot. Dodge led the crowd in sheer numbers, but Tide, Taco Bell and Doritos led the pack with the most positive sentiments out of the ads that ran during the game.

With the exponential growth in social and how it relates to campaigns, it makes you wonder what next year will have in store.

Nearly all of the spots were available on YouTube days before the game even aired, and engagement campaigns started well before that.

One thing is for certain – social will continue to grow. Brands need to figure out how to embrace it or they could very well be left behind. Also important to note – 45 percent of the TV audience was female. Advertisers and packaged goods, such as Oreo, took advantage; Calvin Klein did, too.

Online advertising predictions for 2013

As we ring in the new year, advertising trends will continue to change and progress. In 2013, online advertising is expected to be even more innovative and dominating than in past years.

  1. Mobile traffic will continue to rise. It is expected that by the end of 2013, one in three paid clicks could come from a tablet or smartphone. With this drastic increase in mobile usage, in-app advertising spend is expected to skyrocket as well.
  2. Cross-channel and cross-device advertising and measurement will explode! Where customers used to simply click on an online ad and purchase, the lines between online and offline worlds are becoming blurred as customers utilize mobile devices to conduct more product research than ever.
  3. Owned and earned media will become the rule, not the exception. Advertisers will leverage their owned media as marketing tools even more so than in years past, taking advantage of the cost efficient control that they have to reach niche audiences. In a year where word-of-mouth marketing will continue to grow, earned media will be that much more vital as the customer becomes the channel.
  4. Online advertisers are going to finally realize the true value in social media. The fact is, we no longer live in a world powered solely by direct response marketers. It is now all about building relationships with customers and gaining access to larger audiences. A new year is just going to continue to enforce the importance of utilizing social media, and even provide deeper data to support it.
  5. Online marketing will become even more targeted. Facebook has already taken the plunge moving far beyond basic demographic targeting. With custom audiences where sponsored stories or ads can be used to target a specific set of users, what’s to come next?
  6. Real-time optimization will be the norm.  Advertisers have now moved beyond the click and require insight into the brand impact of their online activity alongside their click data. We are moving towards a time in which advertisers will be able to track all of their campaigns against key metrics, and utilize online dashboards to adjust creative, frequency and more to optimize campaigns in real-time.
  7. Online display formats and units will continue to evolve. With digital infographics becoming vital in telling an advertisers’ story in 2012, the new year will only further enhance the need for online marketers to utilize different online formats to more effectively deliver their messages. Newer, larger and more customizable online units will continue to be developed in 2013, offering advertisers more innovative ways to build their brands.

Read more about 2013 trends and predictions:

http://www.adexchanger.com/data-driven-thinking/online-marketing-top-trends-for-2013/

http://www.millwardbrown.com/ChangingChannels/2012/Predictions/

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/190026/2013-predictions-from-online-ad-marketing-experts.html#axzz2H1lAuGAx

Jimmy Kimmel is ready to rumble

This week, Jimmy Kimmel is moving from his midnight time slot to 11:35 pm, entering the ring with the late-night heavy-hitters of Letterman and Leno. ABC is hoping that the 25 minute difference will help boost their ratings, because simply put, many people decide to go to bed around midnight. There are a lot more people still watching TV at 11:35 pm than at midnight. This shift is historic because it will be this first time that all three of the major broadcast networks will have late-night talk shows all competing at 11:35 pm.

Jimmy KimmelThe arrival of Kimmel in the 11:35 time slot means a younger generation is starting to plant its flag there. At 44, Kimmel is younger and edgier than Leno and Letterman, both in their 60s, and brings the highly coveted 18-49 demographic. Kimmel will also have a head start on Jimmy Fallon, who has been rumored to be the heir apparent for Leno at NBC.

It’s no coincidence that the time shift comes at a time when Kimmel’s audience is steadily growing, while his rivals’ ratings are slipping. This past year, Kimmel was well-received hosting the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and hosting the Emmy Awards.  Jimmy Kimmel Live! is also coming off its most-watched season in five years, growing 3 percent in total viewers and proving the only broadcast late night show to register an uptick this year according to ABC.

Although the Kimmel show still lags far behind Jay and Dave in the ratings, with a viewership of only 1.9 million, compared to Leno’s and Letterman’s viewership of around 3 million each, Kimmel is a legitimate threat to the current late-night landscape and should prove to be a solid move for ABC.

This Week in Travel & Tourism — 11/19/2012

INTERNATIONAL

Travel summit notes rise in demand for exotic destinations

Travel agents and tour operators who attended Ensemble Travel Group’s recent Las Vegas conference report that travelers are increasingly being drawn to exotic and off-the-beaten-track destinations. “The hot destinations are Ecuador, the Galapagos, Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam, African safaris. People are going for big-ticket items. It’s like they want to spend money now because they don’t know how things will be later on,” said Judy Ruffini, a regional sales manager at General Tours.

Airlift problems hamper tourism in the Caribbean

Air travel between Caribbean islands usually consists of multileg flights that take several hours. This lack of convenient flight options could be one reason that tourism in the region is not growing as rapidly as hoped, tourism experts say. “Intra-Caribbean tourism is down by 40% in the last five years. Make air travel more accessible — get rid of the visa regulations, make it cheaper — and more people will travel. It changes the equation,” said Richard Doumeng, president of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association.

Luxury travel is leaning toward uniqueness, customization

Luxury travelers are increasingly demanding customized trips heavy in out-of-the-ordinary experiences, experts said during Signature Travel Network’s Sales Meeting and Trade Show in Las Vegas this week. “We have arranged white-linen banquets on the Great Wall and trips down a tributary of the Li River (Guilin) in bamboo rafts. We take clients to studios of major artists and fashion designers. In Beijing, there’s a private $300 million art collection, which people can see, and be taught by the owner how to understand Chinese art,” said Margot Kong, a vice president with Imperial Tours in San Francisco.

DOMESTIC

Survey: Holiday travel spending will rise 12% this year

An annual survey by Allianz Global Assistance USA indicates that holiday travel spending this year will reach $72.9 billion — up about 12% over 2011. Forty-five percent of respondents said they are “very confident” that they will take a holiday vacation this year, compared with 42% in the previous year.

Business travel could benefit from U.S. “fiscal cliff,” group says

The impending “fiscal cliff” of expiring tax cuts and reduced federal spending could benefit business travel over the long term, the Global Business Travel Association says in a report. “The elimination of tax cuts and reductions in federal spending would lead to reduced deficits and lower interest rates over the long run, resulting in business travel spending and an overall economy that grows more quickly after absorbing the shock of the fiscal cliff,” the GBTA said. However, the U.S. economy stands to lose $20 billion in business-travel spending over nine quarters if the economy goes over the so-called cliff, the group says.

U.S. Travel Association grass-roots program will focus on Congress

The U.S. Travel Association has unveiled plans for a grass-roots initiative that aims to cultivate industry advocates in Congress. “Every congressional district in America can thank travel for jobs and economic activity, so we’ve designed a program to build our bench of champions in Congress, those members who will stand with us and play offense on policies to protect and stimulate increased travel,” said U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow. The Travel Blitz program is set to launch next year.

CRUISE

Norwegian overcomes hurdles to become successful in Hawaii

Norwegian Cruise Line’s 10% price increase on Hawaii cruises next year is a big improvement from several years ago, when the line’s 2,138-passenger Pride of America was struggling.

AIRLINE

Virgin Atlantic gains short-haul slots at Heathrow

Virgin Atlantic said it has been offered all of the Heathrow short-haul slots available following International Airline Group’s acquisition of BMI. International Airline Group is the parent of British Airways.

DOT approves Delta’s route to Tokyo from Seattle

The Department of Transportation has approved the request from Delta Air Lines to transfer service from one of its two routes between Detroit and Haneda Airport in Tokyo to Seattle. The switch will “open Haneda access to a new region of the country,” the DOT said.