• Premier Inn launches ¬£9m campaign

Whitbread is on Friday set to launch a £9m marketing blitz to rebrand its Premier Inn chain, the biggest ever advertising spend by a hotelier in the UK.

At just under 2% of the turnover of the chain, the investment is the largest commitment made by a major hotel company in above the line advertising in the UK.

A big part of the spend is on television advertising, a medium not used by the chain for three years. In addition, there will be print, poster and internet advertising.

The campaign has been put together by advertising agency RKCR, the London office of Young & Rubicam, which was hired in the autumn. The commercials will feature comedian Lenny Henry, depicted enjoying the "quality, comfort and value" of Premier Inn.

Other clients of the agency include M&S and Virgin, demonstrating the company Premier Inn is aspiring to keep. The slogan "Everything's premier but the price", which was created by the previous advertising agency, is being retained.

The big challenge for Premier Inn is putting clear blue water between it and its arch rival Travelodge. Most consumers currently mix up the two brands but the dropping of the "Lodge" aspect and Travelodge's increasing focus on becoming the Ryanair of hotels may help bring some clarity.

Travelodge last week parted company from its marketing director, Daniel Heale, with the role being taken over by chief operating officer Guy Hands, who was previously in the post. During the summer, Travelodge upped its own marketing spend by 20% although this has not seen it take to the television screens.

Meanwhile, the holder of a stake in Whitbread worth about 8% is not, as was widely thought last year, Starwood Capital, but rather Asif Aziz, the property developer who owns London's Trocadero through his Golfrate vehicle.

Ironically, the Trocadero is to be the site of a 500-room Ibis (reduced from 600 rooms in an attempt to obtain planning). And Golfrate has plans to build another Ibis in a shopping centre in London suburb Sutton.

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