The Hans Brinker brand is built on being the “worst hotel in the world” and its campaigns take honesty to the extreme. Most hotels compete on features like cleanliness, service, comfort, and amenities, but in an effort to differentiate, Hans Brinker has positioned itself as the complete opposite. Since the mid-1990s, Hans Brinker’s advertising (all by agency KesselsKramer) has touted the hotel’s supposedly horrific conditions. It’s an exaggerated message – travelers will tell you that the hotel is not as bad as depicted. Though the idea of branding oneself as “terrible” might seem counter-intuitive, it’s actually a differentiation strategy that has worked wonders. Travelers have flocked to Hans Brinker for almost 15 years because the hotel’s brand and outrageous advertising. According to this article, paid nights at the hotel have “risen from 60,000 to 145,000 per year since Kessels took a sledgehammer to the Hans Brinker’s reputation.”

When Kessels (founder of KesselsKramer) was originally approached by the hotel manager, his only demand was that he wouldn’t get complaints anymore. It soon became apparent that the only luxury the backpacker-oriented hotel had was honesty. The ironic ads celebrating Hans Brinker’s mediocrity have given birth to a line of products, including a book called The Worst Hotel in the World.

I absolutely love their latest campaign, centered around how Hans Brinker’s “lack of services and features makes it the most accidentally eco-friendly hotel on the planet”.

Agency: KesselsKramer, Amsterdam & KesselsKramer, London
Erik Kessels (Art Director)
Tyler Whisnand (Copywriter)
Marla Ulrich (Agency Producer)
Illustration & Animation: Anthony Burrill


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