Analysis of Thomson’s ‘Moments’ Advert


This analysis considers the ad’s objective, strategy and target market, as well as discussing the way in which the advert fits within Thomson’s brand positioning. It also deconstructs the narrative, using semiotics to decipher signifiers, considering themes which run throughout. It ends with cultural analysis, before debating the overall effectiveness.

To begin, it is important to look at the target audience, as this gives context for further analysis. When watching ‘Moments’ the ad is aimed towards families, with the child protagonist highlighting this – the children watching at home will envy her, whilst parents watch and wish for their children to have a similar holiday experience.  This focus is maintained further be a playlist entitled ‘Family Life by TUI’ on Thomson’s YouTube channel, and indeed encapsulated by marketing director Jeremy Ellis stating ‘there are a lot of people that like the thrill of being independent and that’s fine but they aren’t our core customers and never will be.’ (Ellis, 2016) (TUI, c. 2017) This reinforces the idea of community and in conjunction with ‘Moments’ presents Thomson as the perfect provider for family holidays.

After looking at target audience, it is important to look at objectives, with the main aim being to increase the number of Thomson holiday bookings.

This aim is shared by Ellis, who expresses importance of the 16th December 2016 debut, with this being ‘just as Christmas advertising starts to die down mid-December.’ (Ellis, 2016) Specifically, Ellis places significance upon Boxing Day, as a ‘key day for people booking holidays with us.’ (Ellis, 2016) This shows the focus on increasing bookings, as ‘Moments’ had been scheduled strategically to ensure that Thomson was ‘front-of-mind for when people get to the booking period.’ (Ellis, 2016)

In relation to this objective, Thomson’s strategy was to present a Thomson holiday as an experience, showcasing not only the resort’s scenery, but also the way in which the holiday will make the customer feel, with a representation of an idyllic beach-side holiday being sold ‘through emotive storytelling rather than the sales advertising that was apparent 10 years ago.’ (Ellis, 2016)

When comparing ‘Moments’ to Thomson’s brand positioning, it is important to note the different sections of Thomson, as families are not customers to whom TUI sells. TUI also presents Sensatori holidays (‘luxury holidays designed to fuel the senses,’) Sensimar holidays (‘stylish holidays just for adults,’) and cruises. (TUI, c. 2017) Before looking in more detail at ‘Moments’ in relation to other family-focused adverts it is crucial to define the main difference between the family holiday adverts and the other ‘more adult’ holiday adverts: within the family adverts the child is normally the protagonist, whereas the other adverts do not include children.

‘Moments’ and other Thomson family-focused adverts share many qualities. One of these is that the child is normally the protagonist, and the advert always follows an emotive storyline. One example of this is ‘A Film About a Smile,’ which uses a girl and her relationship with his teddy and family. (TUI, 2014) In addition, the resorts are always similar, focusing on nature and the ocean.

One difference between ‘Moments’ and ‘A Film About a Smile’ is that the latter begins in the family home, contrasting the family’s ‘monotonous’ life with their dream holiday. In this way, ‘A Film About a Smile’ has a more defined linear narrative.

One aspect which is vital for Thomson’s brand positioning is the inclusion of the ocean, which acts as a selling point and is therefore found within all adverts. This is crucial as ‘swimming pools and water activities are the most important factor for families choosing a holiday resort,’ explaining Thomson’s desire to focus on this aspect of their holidays. (Russell, 2012)

Another commodity which Thomson uses within all ads is the slogan ‘discover your smile.’ This is an important part of Thomson’s brand positioning, with this reminding the viewer that they are watching a Thomson advert, as well as presenting the company as compassionate and customer-focused. The fact that the slogan often appears at the end, with no mention of Thomson beforehand intensifies the importance of this.

With a lack of concentration upon brand within most of the advert, it is important to deconstruct the narrative.

The plot follows Violet Hill as she explores areas of Thomson’s Aquila Rithymna Beach resort whilst everything and everyone around her is frozen in time. The viewer watches as she marvels at the frozen setting before jumping into her father’s arms, becoming part of the frozen scene. For a more detailed plot description please see Appendix 1.

The viewer is then presented with minimal text stating ‘that moment brought to you by Thomson. Discover your smile.’ This is interesting, as this only lasts for the final 3 seconds, meaning that if viewers did not watch until the end they would not know whether it was an advertisement for Thomson or a competitor.

Another interesting thing is that there is no mention of price, presenting a compelling strategy, as mention of the price may put some potential customers off, meaning that those who cannot afford the holiday can still watch the advert, becoming emotionally involved before finding out afterwards, through their own research, that they cannot afford it. At this point the customer’s desire could be so high that they will try harder to justify the price in order to recreate the experience, even if it is truly out of their price range. It also conveys the holiday as ‘priceless’ – it’s not about the money, it’s about how much you need this experience.

The music also plays an important role, with ‘A Day in the Sun’ being created specifically for the advert and providing a relaxing and mystical compliment to Hill’s wonderment. Potential customers on YouTube commend the track, with one example of this being Michael Lynch, who states ‘this level of musical art by itself, makes life worth living truly…  the cello sings with all the beauty of the human at its superb best, and it carries my slightly sombre and reflective mood so effortlessly to where ever it wishes to leave me in total pleasure.’ (Lynch, 2017) Aside from the music, there is a distinct lack of vocal script until 00:51, allowing viewers to fully engage with the narrative.

After looking at the narrative, it is important to deconstruct specific semiotics within ‘Moments,’ many of which signify innocence and purity.

For example, the use of the child protagonist denotes an innocent experience which is untouched by the world outside, and is emphasized by the blue costume, with blue leading to connotations of purity relating back to the Virgin Mary.

Throughout the ad, most characters are indeed wearing blue, which not only signifies the honesty and innocence of the child herself, but the innocence of the holiday in general, portraying the experience as life-changing. Blue is also ‘strongly associated with tranquillity and calmness,’ adding another layer of positive connotation. (Colour Wheel Pro, 1995-2015)

White is also used a lot, and is again ‘associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity, and virginity.’ (Colour Wheel Pro, 1995-2015) Examples of this include the towel which Hill walks beneath, umbrellas, pillows and table clothes

The hummingbirds are also symbolically significant, presenting the holiday as exotic, emphasizing the difference between the viewer’s current surroundings and the beauty of the resort.

Aside from semiotics, ‘Moments’ also uses many different themes and ideologies to present the tranquil experience.

One of these is the use of family, with the relationships portrayed on screen presenting the perfect unit, meaning that viewing parents will look at these families, and wish to imitate the familial success by booking this holiday which promises to bring their family closer.

As mentioned before, the social construct of childhood innocence plays an important role within the ad. This use of the child protagonist however goes beyond captivating the family audience, presenting the holiday itself as pure and childlike, where everything is new and the consumer can rescind the responsibilities of adulthood.

In this way, Thomson is not only showcasing Hill’s reactions to the holiday, but letting adult watchers transfer themselves to her point of view – taking them back to a time where things were simpler and playing upon nostalgia to further sales. In the words of Tim Lott, ‘children are beautiful because they possess something that we have all lost – the quality of innocence.’ (Lott, 2013) ‘Moments’ reminds adults of this loss, encouraging them to book the holiday which has, for just a short time, allowed them to re-enter this world of childhood wonder and innocence.

This nostalgia is further reinforced when researching the creation of the ad, with the advert creatives talking about the importance of their childhood in relation to the advert:

‘When we were thinking about moments that stay with you, we always went back to our childhood.’ (Wood, 2016) When considering that the advert’s inspiration came from the creatives own nostalgic memories, this highlights the deliberate nature of inducing the viewer’s sentimentality.

Another ideology used is that of nature and peacefulness, which begins at the very start of the video when Hill stands in front of the sea. This is further intensified with the inclusion of the hummingbirds and is a useful tool, as it takes the viewer away from their urban lifestyle to a place where they can relax and take a break from their stressful lives.

A fourth theme is discovery, with Hill exploring and discovering her surroundings. An example of this is her touching the frozen water droplets and then watching them fall to the ground. Another is the very act of her walking around the resort.

One last ideology which ‘Moments’ upholds is that of the relaxing benefits of the ocean. The sea itself is used as a representation ofpower, strength, life, mystery, hope and truth,’ with this being inbuilt into social consciousness, and individuals being drawn to the coastal idyll. (

            This is an important aspect of both Thomson’s brand identity and adverts due to society’s desire to spend time near the sea. This craving is backed by psychological fact, as the link between water… and mental health is huge.’ (Hansen, 2011) It is therefore important to showcase this selling point of Thomson holidays, with this arguably being a direct link to the slogan.

Aside from the various themes and ideologies which the advert upholds, ‘Moments’ could also be seen to reflect popular culture.

One of these is ‘Moments’ similarity to the mannequin challenge, with this being noticed by consumer: ‘the best manikin challenge video.’ (Car Enthusiast) The mannequin challenge has been an internet sensation, with household names such as the Obamas taking part in the challenge.

Without knowledge of the creation it can been seen in this light, however ‘How was the 2016 Thomson advert made?’ depicts a reality that is far from this. (Thomson, 2016a)

            After analysing the advert’s content, it is important to look at the effectiveness of the ad through considering the 6 principles.

YouTube is a useful indicator of whether the advert has been successful, as views are based not upon viewers who watch simply because of commercial breaks, but people who are searching for more information about the company. To date the ad itself has over 400,000 views.

When comparing to other seasonal ads this is very low, with Marks and Spencer’s ‘Christmas with Love from Mrs Claus’ scoring 8 million, and John Lewis’s ‘Buster the Boxer’ reaching over 25 million. (M&S, 2016) (John Lewis, 2016) With this evidence, it can be argued that the advert was not noticed, and at the very least it was not noticed enough for people to then go and view it again online.

To consider whether the ad ‘thinks differently,’ it is important to look at other adverts. When watching ‘Moments’ there is not very much that stands out as being original and different, with the ad being similar to past Thomson and competitor ads. Put simply, a young protagonist selling family holidays has been done time and time again.

In regards to simplicity, ‘Moments’ is short compared to others, especially considering the schedule as many Christmas adverts are much longer e.g. ‘Buster the Boxer’ was 2:11. The concept for the advert can also be summarised in very few words, again suggesting that the advert does keep it simple.

The advert itself is very typical of both Thomson and competitors, and in this does not challenge conventions. It is a heart-warming, emotive story of a girl walking around a Thomson resort, who eventually jumps into the arms of her father. In this way, the most unconventional thing within the advert could be seen to be her jumping into her dad’s arms instead of her mums, but this is neither here nor there when considering current social conventions.

In conclusion, ‘Moments’ is a heart-warming advert, which sells the idea of Thomson holidays through using semiotics which represent relaxation, innocence and escape, as well as showing beautiful scenery.  When comparing to other adverts and assessing in regards to the 6 principles, however, there is nothing remotely ground-breaking or exciting about the advert. As Travel Weekly states– it ‘doesn’t hit the previous heights achieved by this iconic brand.’ (Dunn, 2017)



Appendix 1

  • 00:00 – Begins with child actress Violet Hill taking centre stage. Within this shot she stands in-front of the sea upon a wooden walkway before walking up the path.


  • 00:02 – The shot then changes to the pool, where an adult male is frozen in position.


  • 00:04 – The camera then quickly changes back to Violet, with a frame of her smiling and waving in the direction of the pool, suggesting that she knows this man.
  • 00:05 – Shot widens again, showing the scene between her and the pool.


  • 00:07 -The camera then continues to follow Violet’s movements, flicking between showing what she sees and her reactions. Within this the consumers watch as the world around her is frozen, with people caught in mid-air playing games, relaxing on beach chairs and playing in the sea.


  • 00:13 – Violet Hill then moves away from the more populated areas of the resort, and watches as the nature around her is also frozen.
  • 00:15 – Shot of frozen hummingbirds.
  • 00:18 – Shot of water falling to the ground upon her touch.
  • 00:20 – Shot of bubbles which have been blown by another child.


  • 00:25 – She then moves back into the populated areas and watches a dinner service.


  • 00:28 – She accidentally walks into a man who is standing still. He seems to almost be knocked over in a way that would be expected of a statue. He is on his phone, and is the first sign of technology within the advert.


  • 00:30 – The next scene then turns to a family who have been paused in the middle of their fun: a girl is pouring water on her father, a mother is watching her children, and the children are running around freely, having fun.


  • 00:32 – She then places the glass of a split orange juice upright before smiling at family.


  • 00:35 – The scene then changes yet again, with concentration upon a towel frozen in the air.


  • 00:37 – Violet then walks beneath this, and the viewers are again shown her amazement. This is a particularly emotive scene, as it shows her wonderment at an item which would not normally focus any attention.


  • 00:40 – The ad then repeats an earlier scene showing the side view of the pool, as she smiles.
  • 00:41 – She approaches the pool.
  • 00:45 – She then jumps into the arms of the first man that the ad saw, with the narrative showing that this is not simply a man that she knows, but her father.


  • 00:51 – She becomes part of the frozen scene. Vocal script begins.
  • 00:57 – It is then after this point that the slogan is announced, and this is the first mention of this being a Thomson advert.





Colour Wheel Pro (1995-2015) Color wheel pro: Color meaning. Available at: (Accessed: 24 February 2017).


Car enthusiast (2017) Moments | Thomson 2016 TV advert. Available at: (Accessed: 24 February 2017).


Dunn, S. (2017) Special Report: Turn-of-year campaigns hits and misses. Available at: (Accessed: 24 February 2017).


Ellis, J. and Gee, R. (2016) Thomson on chatbots, the ‘microadventurer’ and its rebrand. Available at: (Accessed: 24 February 2017).


Hansen, K. (2011) Why you need that beach vacation. Available at: (Accessed: 24 February 2017).


John Lewis (2016) John Lewis Christmas advert 2016 – #BusterTheBoxer. Available at: (Accessed: 24 February 2017).


Lott, T. (2017) What exactly is the innocence of childhood? Available at: (Accessed: 24 February 2017).


Lynch, M. (2017) Moments | Thomson 2016 TV advert. Available at: (Accessed: 24 February 2017).


M&S (2016) M&S 2016 Christmas ad: Christmas with love from Mrs Claus. Available at: (Accessed: 24 February 2017). (c.2017) What does the ocean symbolize? Available at: (Accessed: 24 February 2017).


Russell, F. (2012) What do families want from a holiday? Available at: (Accessed: 24 February 2017).


Thomson (2014) Thomson advert ‘A film about a smile’ (bohemian rhapsody) – extended version. Available at: (Accessed: 24 February 2017).


Thomson (2016a) How was the 2016 Thomson advert made? Available at: (Accessed: 24 February 2017).


Thomson (2016c) Moments | Thomson 2016 TV advert. Available at: (Accessed: 24 February 2017).


TUI (c. 2017) Thomson YouTube Channel. Available at: (Accessed: 24 February 2017).


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