Bedding down with the presidential candidates

As advertising gimmicks go, this one gets my vote. “Stay Smart, America” is a campaign by Holiday Inn Express and the Boston office of its ad agency, Digitas. What this new addition in the ad series does is show how much the presidential candidates would have saved had they stayed at a Holiday Inn Express instead of whatever swankier digs they’re using. Interestingly, Mitt Romney led the GOP in “wasted” hotel dollars. Hmmm… could that have contributed to his withdrawal?

The site design is genius. To the background of “Hail to the Chief,” you see drawings of all original candidates in their jammies. Romney is holding a teddy bear. Put your cursor over each candidate and their pj’s turn red or blue, depending on the party. Click on each to get a report of money spent on lodging, based on published campaign expense reports. There also are tallies for each party.

Days Inn in Hardeeville, SC welcomes petsPersonally, I find Holiday Inn Express a little too rich for my bargain-happy blood. The Days Inn I stay at in Partyville, SC (OK, it’s really Hardeeville), on my bimonthly drive from North Carolina to Florida is $39.99 on weeknights, and $10 extra for my wiener dog Roxy, who even gets her own bed.

In fact, I just did a quick test. The lowest rate for Feb. 22 at the Tampa International Airport Holiday Inn Express is $133. For the same night at the Tampa Airport Days Inn, it’s $90. Feel free to pass that along to your candidate of choice.

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