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Growing up without growing old

Travel firm Thomas Cook’s brand Club 18-30 sends over 90,000 young holiday makers abroad each year. However, in some parts of the media, Club 18-30 had become a ‘tag term’ for excessive drinking and young reckless behaviour and over time had developed a downmarket identity.

Despite these negative perceptions, Club 18-30 was positively evolving to suit the needs of its core 18-30 year old consumer. Thomas Cook appointed Radiator PR in January 2010 to assist with the positive promotion of Club 18-30 in the build up and throughout the 2010 holiday booking season. The agency was asked to develop and implement a tactical consumer PR campaign to highlight the changes, challenge out-of-date perceptions and present the brand more positively. The agency was also briefed to seek out new brand partners to help endorse Club 18-30’s fresh brand identity.


The first phase of the campaign was dedicated to identifying and re-educating target media as well as evolving the brand’s identity. Key parts of the campaign included:

Press days:

Bi-annual press days held at the Soho Sanctum Hotel in London were a first step in encouraging Club 18-30’s target media to re-assess the brand. The new “Love 18-30” holiday brochures were shared with over 120 glossy and lifestyle media. The Radiator team engaged media in one-to-one dialogue about the brand, tackling negative perceptions and establishing a fresh perspective.

Brand partnerships:

Supporting current and seeking out new brand partners was a key tactic in creating a positive Club 18-30 brand identity. As well as promoting the existing relationship between Club 18-30 and fashion retailer, Blue Inc, new brand partnerships were forged with national fitness chain, Fitness First and the Teenage Cancer Trust to support its safe tanning-campaign, Shunburn. This secured coverage in female glossy magazines and websites. Independently, Club 18-30 developed a formal partnership with Drink Aware which attracted plenty of positive coverage nationwide.

Individual Club 18-30 reps shared their career histories to dispel negative media myths and demonstrate the skills, passion and hard work involved in the job. Telephone interviews were secured with a range of national newspaper career sections, student media and regional media targets. The timing of these stories was key, because post-election, the issue of student employment and economic doom and gloom was a national topic of debate – enabling the PR team to promote becoming a Club 18-30 rep as a viable and valuable career choice.

Media selection:
Key media titles were chosen across national papers, student, music and lifestyle publications and websites – those recognised as being the most influential voices in the Club 18-30 target market.

Relevant Club 18-30 stories were given to key titles throughout the booking season. These included promoting the latest holiday offers, highlighting the Essential Price List (a practical Club 18-30 guide to resort costs including the price of a pint of beer and nightclub entry), promoting the new Club 18-30 free magazine as well as launching Club 18-30’s new “Build Your Own Holiday” concept and the new Club 18-30 website.

Club 18-30’s marketing manager, Deborah Milroy was also found a speaking opportunity at the annual Youth Marketing Conference, enabling the brand to demonstrate its expert knowledge of the youth market and showcase how far the brand had evolved.

Through a series of editorial stories and promotions, the campaign secured coverage in media titles including The Sun, The Daily Record, The Star, The Mirror, Company magazine, OK magazine, More magazine, Zoo magazine and The National Student.

The Club 18-30 PR campaign reached a targeted audience of over 34 million and achieved an editorial value of over £627,000.

The 2011 campaign is currently underway with new and existing brand and media partners on board to help drive the positive and evolving identity of Club 18-30.

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