Gnome around the world - viral campaign

Sooo, Travelocity's guerilla marketing campaign ripped straight from the movie Amelie seems to be working out well for them.

On messageboards and various forums people keep asking who stole my gnome? and linking to, ever since the campaign started December 9th. Missing gnome posters have been posted all over US cities (.pdf here) and there's even a a toll-free number to call if you've seen the gnome. If all that hasn't tipped you off that it is indeed a viral, well, then just watch the fake news report (QT and Windows Media).

Ads imitate art again, and again, and again... Gnomes are so 1999. ;)

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tlevitz's picture

... so 1999? I blush... Maybe it's because we have a gnome shortage in the States and gnomenapping isn't quite at epidemic proportions the way it is in say, the UK, Australia or elsewhere but I never tire of the pointy-hatted little guys. Gnomes beat the hell out of wishing wells -- and all those inflatable animals and whatnot cropping up all over lawns this holiday season.

Heehee; hooray for gnomes!

junyr's picture

Even Fark had this posted a few days ago, but members quickly debunked its "intention" in the comments about the story.

tlevitz's picture

I'm assuming that's due in part to the wonderfully baaad web site?

Dabitch's picture

98-99 Kesselskramer and various other 'hip' euro agencies had a real thing about Gnomes (their offices were covered in them, and lots of ads had gnomes in them..). Even I had a gnome from KK but I left it in Amsterdam.

caffeinegoddess's picture

I came across this Gnome Liberation Front website years ago. Recycled ideas. blah.

junyr's picture

Um...I really enjoy fark. It makes my work day fly by. Sorta like this place, except here I actually get to post stories (well, 2 so far).

Dabitch's picture

hehe, I think tlevitz meant the gnomewebsite being baad. Fark is baaad too, in a wonderfully addictive and entertaining waste-your-office-hours kinda way. ;)

Dabitch's picture

even MIT has had gnome fever. Last year hundreds of gnomes appeared all over MIT..... :)

Dabitch's picture

The secret is now official:

SOUTHLAKE, Texas, Jan. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Geared toward today's savvy travelers, Travelocity, the most popular travel site on the Web, and its advertising agency, McKinney + Silver of Raleigh, N.C., today launched the multi-dimensional "Roaming Gnome" advertising campaign.

"The Roaming Gnome is a character that we believe consumers will come to love and embrace," said David Baldwin, executive creative director for McKinney + Silver. "He is a lens that allows travelers to share in his enthusiasm of seeing all of these magnificent places for the first time, and he is a great medium for sharing Travelocity travel stories."

The ad launch follows a three-week pre-publicity campaign, during which the gnome's fictional owner, Bill, searched for his gnome online, in cinema ads, posters and the classifieds. Interested searchers visited Bill's site at and thousands more called in to report sightings as well. A television spot teasing the campaign that featured a news reporter interviewing several people on the lookout for The Roaming Gnome ran on Jan. 1 during the 2004 Rose Bowl.

Yahoo press release

tlevitz's picture

A few questions for Travelocity concerning gnomes in this modern world:

But does Gnome have magical powers enabling him to locate his lost luggage, twitch or blink his way through long airport lines and breeze through security checks? Do metal detectors and x-ray machines suddenly go on the fritz in his presence? How does he get the gardening implements or the lantern, so often clutched in a meaty paw, through security? Does the wheelbarrow he occasionally trundles count as a carry-on? Will the fawn, sometimes slung over his shoulders, fit under a seat? Or does it need to fly in a pet taxi in a pressurized cargo section?

Dabitch's picture

To be fair the whole gnome stealing prank is and old one.

So old in fact that it was reported mid 1980's by australian folkorist Bill Scott, and Jan Harold Brunvand wrote about the urban myth of gnome-napping in his 1989 collection of urban legends, "Curses! Broiled Again!"

Home sweet gnome tells about gnome-napping in Manchester -

Dabitch's picture

Sidenote - The Scotsman reports : "Garden gnome-lovers have been targeted by official-looking letters which threaten prosecution if they do not remove their outdoor ornaments, a council warned today.

Fraudsters sent the bogus note to householders in Derbyshire, who were told their gnomes contravened planning regulations." teheeheee.