News & Views

Hostelworld / Youth Hostelling with Eubank

by Contagious I/O

This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our customisable research platform featuring the world’s most innovative, creative and effective campaigns and marketing ideas

Hostelworld, the largest global youth hostel booking site, has launched a viral starring British boxing legend Chris Eubank. The spot, entitled Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubank, is based on a long-running cultural meme and takes advantage of a recent Twitter storm.

Here’s how it happened.

In 1997, British TV show I’m Alan Partridge (featuring Steve Coogan) featured a scene in which the leading character pitched ridiculous TV show ideas to the commissioning editor for the BBC. Suggestions included ‘Monkey Tennis’, ‘Arm Wrestling with Chas & Dave’ and – you guessed it – ‘Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubank’.

The scene has gone down in British television history, and is often parodied and repeated by fans of the TV show. One Twitter user, Chris Packman, even asked Chris Eubank if he’d ever consider making the show.

This tweet became the basis of the Twitter storm earlier in August, as Chris Eubank replied to it by conceding that he didn’t understand the joke made 18 years ago.

Following on from the furore on social media, Hostelworld partnered with Eubank to make a one minute trailer of the fictional show. In two days, it’s received just under 170,000 hits.

 We caught up with Andy Nairn, founder of Lucky Generals in London, the agency that created the campaign, to find out how this unlikely viral sensation came about.

Can you give us some background on the campaign?

Hostelworld is the world’s biggest Hostel-booking site. But it competes against generalist brands, like, Trivago and Airbnb, who are increasingly encroaching on its space. So their business challenge is to punch above their weight and assert their specialist credentials.

Secondarily, they need to overcome dated perceptions of hostels as being a bit grubby. With this in mind, their target market is 18 to 35 year old male and female travellers (with an 18 to 24 bullseye) who want to get a real experience, not the tourist brochure.

We launched a big campaign to attract this group in May, based on the unique ability of hostels to help Millennials to meet new people from around the world. The line is Meet the World and it has run through the line - from a completely new logo/design to TV, print, online, social, experiential etc.

What were the challenges in making this idea a reality?

This activity clearly wasn’t on the media plan. But the client team was really supportive immediately. If they hadn’t been, the whole thing would have died. In particular, they understood that things would need to be pretty fluid. So to their great credit, they were patient as we juggled diaries with Chris all weekend (it was far from certain it could happen, until the last minute); they accepted that there would be no formal pre-production or script; they kept their feedback on the edit very simple and quick.

Clients talk a lot about needing agile agencies, but it cuts both ways and Hostelworld came good in spades.

Chris was also very positive from the beginning. Understandably, we needed to agree all the practical elements and also see off a few competing offers (the social media clamour meant that other travel brands and major media players were circling). But in the end, our tenacity seemed to pay off.

How did you ensure that this was picked up online?

We had an advantage in stoking social media because there was so much interest beforehand. So both we and Chris released the film on our social channels first. Then we contacted all the media and celebs/influencers who had covered the original story.

Then momentum came naturally: including a big lift when the original Partridge protagonists (David Schneider, Armando Lannucci and Steve Coogan – through his production company – gave it the thumbs up). All the national media have now covered it and it has become a Twitter phenomenon all over again so everyone is delighted.


This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O. Contagious I/O is our bespoke trends, inspiration, insight and analysis service, providing daily innovative marketing intelligence across a comprehensive range of sectors to brands and agencies across the world. For more information about Contagious I/O contact