Delivering success | How to win a Grand Prix award - an Expedia Group case study

How to win a Grand Prix award - an Expedia Group case study

The Recruitment Marketing Awards (RMAs) have been up and running for 40 years now.

A celebration of creativity and effectiveness in employer brand, talent attraction and talent management, the awards pull in entries from all around the globe to compete across 27 categories, including the coveted Grand Prix – best in show, picked from among the lucky category winners. This year, Expedia Group and CA3 were lucky enough to walk away with the crown, but what was their secret sauce?

For the past nine years, Expedia Group Japan (EGJ) had attended the Boston Career Forum in the US to recruit Japanese students (fluent in both Japanese & English) for their Market Associate Internship. Although this approach had proved successful, it was an expensive and resource-heavy route to market. But, with such a small talent pool spread all over the world, would a digitally-led approach be the right solution to this challenging brief? The project team certainly felt so, so how did we go about delivering success?

Our first step was to truly understand the audience.


Before this project began, EGJ had already undertaken a huge amount of internal and external research amongst the target audience. Brand awareness in Japan was extremely low, with only 5% of students aware that they were a local employer. 79% of students said they would not apply to EGJ, and the remaining 21% said they may or may not apply. Sobering stuff.

On the plus side though, the research also highlighted what Japanese students truly wanted from an internship. They wanted a role that would give them a sense of achievement, with frequent training opportunities and a friendly, open culture. A good work-life balance is important (historically Japanese companies don’t offer this), as is the ability to ‘be themselves’ in the workplace – they couldn’t have described Expedia Group better.

Working hand-in-hand with our media partners Crunch and supported by Emma Lang, an employer brand specialist based in Singapore, we used this insight to underpin our approach. Crunch mined Big Data to build a clear profile of the talent pool (identified as three core audience segments – students based in Tokyo, regional Japanese universities and key feeder universities in English-speaking countries) and the best way to reach them. CA3 then set about developing a hugely compelling creative campaign.

Tailored creative

This creative campaign – Destination Expedia Group – was underpinned by the key differentiators and drivers uncovered by the research. It focused on the fact that interns can make a real impact and feel that important sense of achievement during their internship at Expedia Group, but also have a life at the same time.

It also tailored its messaging to suit each of the three core audiences, and involved a bilingual, multi-channel approach, supported by a dedicated campaign microsite full of employee-generated content.

The programmatic media strategy utilised a suite of channels (we were one of the first organisations to use Facebook’s new Instant Experience for recruitment) to reach students at different times and in different ways – at home, while job seeking and at university. And hyperlocal targeting was used to engage with Japanese students at key feeder universities and career fairs in Tokyo, the regions and abroad – including (of course) the Boston Career Forum.

Insight that delivered actions

Gone are the days where you push out an advert and hope for the best. We actively tracked every campaign asset and its performance, and used this MI to make recommendations, updates and improvements to the following week’s media strategy and spend. This ensured the better performing assets/channels not only had more impressions, but ultimately higher click through and apply rates.

And the results speak for themselves. Winner of the RMA for Recruitment Effectiveness, and the Grand Prix too of course, Destination Expedia Group was a true success.

Brand awareness amongst the identified target audiences increased massively with 8 million impressions over the life of the campaign, generating 70k clicks. In Japan alone, there were 3.23 million impressions helping to raise the profile of Expedia Group as a local employer. 480k of those impressions hit students at key feeder universities in Japan through hyperlocal targeting.

The campaign generated over 1,000 applications, at a cost per application of just a little over £30, and it hit a qualified applicant rate of 17% (3% above Expedia Group’s global benchmark). We can also happily report that EGJ did not go to the Boston Careers Fair to recruit interns.

We firmly believe that great relationships deliver great work, and this project has proved that ethos beautifully.

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