The Scoop: How Expedia got millions of TikTok views and a WaPo article for $4,700

Plus: The EU bares its DCA teeth at Apple; “Friends” doughnuts cause internet disappointment.

An all-inclusive resort

Seattleite Ben Keenan took to TikTok on a gray February day to muse that it might be cheaper to live in an all-inclusive resort than in the Emerald City.

Expedia came across the video and offered to pay for him to find the answer to this very serious question. They paid $4,700 to put Keenan up at a Mexico all-inclusive for 27 days while he documented what he did, what he ate and tracked every dollar of value he wrung out of the resort.

The result? Millions of views on videos mentioning Expedia and a write-up in the Washington Post with four brand mentions and a spokesperson quote.

“We discovered Ben while scrolling on TikTok, and we couldn’t help but take him up on his challenge,” an Expedia spokesperson told the Post.



Now, to be fair, this likely did cost Expedia more than just $4,700; Keenan is a travel influencer and expert by trade, and likely was paid for his time in addition to his accommodations.

Why it matters: This campaign perfectly demonstrates how social listening can lead to social influencer partnerships and great traditional media relations.

By paying attention to what was buzzing on TikTok, Expedia found a perfect opportunity to insert their brand in a way that made sense: Expedia helps you book affordable travel. Keenan was talking about travel being even more affordable than real life. It’s a no-brainer hook.

The buy-in for his accommodations was low (again, notwithstanding additional fees for Keenan’s time), and it kept Expedia in the conversation for more than a month. Then, Expedia’s savvy partnership with traditional PR earned the write-up in the Post. Of course, Keenan is the star of the article, as he should be, but Expedia is mentioned more times than the actual name of the hotel itself.

This campaign is a perfect example of how all aspects of public relations, both traditional and digital, can work together to truly capitalize on a moment in a way that makes sense for audiences and earns positive brand recall. Well done to the Expedia team.

Editor’s Top Reads:

  • Apple has been charged with violating strict new EU rules designed to bolster competition. The Verge reports that Apple is accused of not allowing “steering,” or allowing companies to send customers to offers outside Apple’s App Store walled garden without an additional charge. The EU is also investigating a “core technology fee” that Apple charges developers on alternative iOS stores, according to The Verge. For its part, Apple says it is in compliance with EU laws. But these charges prove that the EU is serious about DMA rules and isn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with some of the largest tech companies in the world if needed. Both Apple and other companies should be ready not only for a fight to comply with these rules, but to show both regulators and the public that they’re following the rules. Otherwise, the consequences could be pricey.
  • As more media outlets sign deals with AI companies to allow the use of their journalism in LLMs, the journalists who create that content are asking hard questions about what this use means for them — and if they’re entitled to a payday as well. For instance, OpenAI’s deal with The Atlantic allows for the publication’s content to be surfaced by generative AI bots, but it’s not a syndication deal — OpenAI can’t reproduce the whole article or a substantial portion of it and must include The Atlantic’s logo and a backlink. The contract also prevents OpenAI from using content to create derivative work, for which individual journalists would have to be paid for the remix of their work. There’s still so much we don’t know about how journalism and AI will work together. Will this be a lifeline to the struggling industry or the final wave that crashes the industry?
  • Krispy Kreme has launched an incredible-looking line of “Friends” themed doughnuts to celebrate the show’s 30th anniversary (yes, we’re all old). Users flocked to social media to express their adoration of the trifle-flavored, doorframe-embellished pastries … and to share frustration that they’re only available in the U.K. and Ireland rather than the show’s native U.S. This shows the double-edged sword of social media: it helps word of new products spread quickly, but it can cause frustration about differences in availability, cost and more. But even if they can’t get a “We were on a Coffee Break” doughnut, they’re still reminded that Krispy Kremes are delicious, and at least some varieties are available at a store nearby.

Allison Carter is editor-in-chief of PR Daily. Follow her on or LinkedIn.


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