It's no longer 'sex, sex, sex' as Club 18-30 goes upmarket

Once famed for boozy bar crawls and cheeky puns such as "Beaver Espana" and "Summer of 69", Club 18-30 now wants to shake off its sex and sangria image and acquire an air of sophistication.

Once famed for boozy bar crawls and cheeky puns such as "Beaver Espana" and "Summer of 69", Club 18-30 now wants to shake off its sex and sangria image and acquire an air of sophistication.

To move upmarket, the travel company has embarked on a £1.5m marketing campaign to convince its target market that its holidays bear more resemblance to an exclusive club than an alcohol-fuelled free-for-all.

In the past, Club 18-30 adverts have sparked controversy by playing on an images of sexual and alcoholic excess. Two years ago, the RSPCA was enraged by an advert in which a dog observed Club 18-30 clients through the window of a Spanish apartment, before trotting off to engage in sexual acts more familiar to humans than hounds.

In 1995, a poster campaign with the tagline "It's not all sex, sex, sex" prompted more than 300 complaints and was deemed capable of causing "widespread offence". Nudity and sexual innuendo are conspicuously absent from the new campaign, which taps into a desire to "be on the list" to gain entrance to parties and gigs.

In a film noir-style cinema advert, an incompetent detective who attempts to prevent a man jumping off a building with disastrous results is deemed to be "not on the list". It is the first of a series of adverts created by Saatchi and Saatchi, featuring bumbling idiots who are not cool enough to make it on to the list. The campaign, which revolves around a website, www.beonthelist.com, will also include poster, magazine, radio and viral e-mail advertising.

It follows Club 18-30's decision 18 months ago to drop its signature bar crawls, in favour of a programme based around going to music events and to fashionable clubs.

The company hopes to distance itself from the bad press that came on the back of the ITV fly-on-the-wall documentary series Club Reps, when the spotlight fell on the drunken antics of young female holidaymakers in the Greek resort of Faliraki.

A Club 18-30 spokesman insisted many of the stories that appeared in the press involved tourists travelling with rival tour operators. He said: "It's a conscious attempt to communicate what we're really about and what the brand represents. It doesn't represent sex and booze-filled holidays."

"Beaver Espana ran 10 years ago. It's probably one of the most value-for-money campaigns that anybody ever bought into, if you think that people are still talking about it ten years on. What has happened over the years is, because of the high profile the brand has, we haven't had to spend a significant amount on marketing.

"But because we have been less proactive, the perception and myths that have built up about what the brand stands for have been unchecked. It has evolved over the years to become something that a lot of people perceive it not to be."

Kate Stanners, the creative director on the campaign, said: "The club scene, fashion and the holiday scene have become more and more sophisticated, so Club 18-30 have responded accordingly."

Dave Henderson, one of the creative team that designed the series of adverts, said: "We couldn't continue to sell it on sexual excess and booze excess, but we have tried to keep the humour in the campaign."

FUN IN THE SUN: THE AD CAMPAIGNS

Beaver España

In 1995, the Advertising Standards Authority received 314 complaints about a series of posters with strap lines containing heavy sexual innuendo, including "Beaver España", "Summer of 69" and "It's not all sex, sex, sex. There's a bit of sun and sea as well".

Mosquito

In this 1995 television advert, a mosquito bites the naked buttock of a young man, drinks his blood and flies off, becoming increasingly dizzy and hitting a window.

Perspectives

A 2001 print campaign with shots of beautiful people in provocative poses won the Grand Prix for travel and leisure advertising at the Cannes International Advertising Festival the following year.

Doggie Style

A cinema advert for the holiday company in 2002 featured a dog spying on Club 18-30 clients before trotting off to mimic their human-style sex acts.

Be on the List

An edgy cinema advert portrays Club 18-30 as a sophisticated holiday destination, with access to exclusive clubs and parties.

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