Cannes Lions

The Curious Gene

I.D.E.A., San Diego / HILTON HOTELS / 2018

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Case Film






Curiosity is a catalyst for traveling. We created the Curious Experiment, introducing the DRD4-7R Curiosity Gene through the lenses of these genetically tested influencers. Those who possessed the gene were further studied, interviewed and filmed, allowing us to create a marketing campaign around the intersection of natural curiosity and the Curio brand.

Our ethnographic research revealed five distinct curiosity types: Challenger, Culturalist, Epicurean, Pathfinder and Spiritualist.

As our influencers shared their DNA results, we developed a typing tool called The Curiosity Quiz, inviting the public to discover which curiosity type best matches their own interests, and as a result, which Curio hotel properties would best suit their curiosity.


To build brand engagement for Curio, we chose influencers, not based on their social following, but based on their testing for the DRD4-7R gene. In June and July of 2017, the influencers who tested positive for the gene were quizzed, interviewed and filmed by a dedicated research team that identified five unique curiosity types.

In August, once the influencers’ curiosity types were discovered, we hosted them at the Hotel La Jolla, a Curio property in San Diego, to conduct an ethnographic study. We filmed their travels across the city, personalized for their curiosity type, and encouraged them to share their experiences on Instagram.

Placements were secured on (31,760,000 UMV), as well as paid social placements on Facebook and Instagram.


The experiment outperformed all of Curio’s previous social campaigns, earning 6.9 million impressions and over one million engagements. Within 60 days, Curio earned three million video views and inspired 65,000 people to get tested to discover their own curiosity type.

Curio also saw a 320 percent increase in Instagram engagement and an average cost per engagement of $0.02 – the lowest they’ve ever achieved during a campaign. Additionally, Curio’s Instagram following grew by 160 percent.

Our campaign drew more than 100,000 people to visit the website, prompting them to take The Curiosity Quiz and find out which Curio property matches their unique curiosity type. After taking the quiz, more than 5,000 people clicked to book a room.

The campaign exceeded Curio’s benchmarks for video completion rate by 15 percent; the cost-per-click exceeded expectations by 65 percent; and the click-through rate was 484 percent higher than any campaign in Curio’s history.

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