Skift Take

Given its never-ending, still-pending acquisition of Starwood, this ad campaign — aimed at promoting Marriott's loyalty program — makes total sense. Marriott doesn't just want consumers to stop clicking around. It wants them to be loyal Marriott customers in every sense of the word. It also wants to assure any critics or SPG loyalists that the Marriott Rewards program already is one of the best ones around.

Tune into tonight’s NFL game between the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills, and you’ll come across an ad from Marriott’s newest global campaign, “You Are Here.”

The 30-second spot (view it below) introduces viewers to Corioli S., an Australian marine archaeologist and Marriott Rewards member, who’s brought her husband and son along with her on a business trip to The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. “It’s the moments that are most rewarding,” she says in the ad. The commercial ends with a visual of all 19 Marriott brands, and a narrator saying, “So no matter where you go, you are here.”

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Marriott International’s global marketing officer, Karin Timpone, couldn’t disclose the exact financial investment of the campaign, but said it was a considerably “larger effort than we’ve done in the past.” Marriott’s

The Thursday night ad is just one part of a massive, multi-channel, global campaign, encompassing not only traditional forms of media like television, but also digital mediums such as Facebook Canvas, Instagram video, and a microsite, It will launch first in the U.S. and expand globally next month in countries that include Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, India, and China.

You Are Here will also give voice to Marriott Rewards members worldwide, inviting them to share their own personal stories and to possibly be featured in Marriott’s online travel magazine, Marriott Traveler, as well as in future ad spots.

Harnessing the emotional power of travel was the campaign’s main objective, said Timpone. Marriott worked with ad agency Grey to put the campaign together. “It was important to have the tagline express that emotional quotient and also be a play on words,” she said. “We wanted it to be emotionally resonant with the reasons why people travel. It’s that combination of being emotionally fulfilling and also being specific — that you’re in this specific location and specific hotel. We wanted to answer the question, ‘How do we talk about breadth and depth of the portfolio that’s exciting about travel? The answer is through the eyes and hearts of travelers.”

Other upcoming ad spots will feature an art curator who travels to the JW Marriott hotel in Venice, Italy, and one member’s South African safari while staying at the Protea Hotel by Marriott at Kruger Gate.

Metrics of Success

When putting together the campaign, Timpone said Marriott was mindful to design this with “the next-generation experience seeker” in mind.

“It’s not specific to age, but more of a mindset,” Timpone said. “They want a seamless experience when they travel. They’re looking to be recognized in a certain way. They want to have relevant offerings across a loyalty program like Marriott Rewards. They work and play on the same trip. They’re on the go. With You Are Here, we wanted to highlight the emotion you get when you get to have these great trips — we want to show we’re the right platform and portfolio to be with.”

In terms of measuring the success of this campaign, Timpone said she wants to “increase the awareness and perception, globally, that the Marriott portfolio and brands are the best.” She added, “We want to increase the perception that Marriott Rewards offers experiences that enrich their lives and engage them to join.”

Currently, Marriott Rewards has approximately 57 million members and with You Are Here, Marriott is hoping to increase that number dramatically.

When asked why Marriott chose to emphasize its loyalty program, rather than deliver a message around direct bookings like its competitor, Hilton, did earlier this year, with this big of a campaign, Timpone said Marriott’s already-existing Marriott Rewards Member Rates campaign was already firmly in place and wouldn’t be ending.

That campaign, which is primarily digital, is specifically targeted toward travelers who already have an intention to book a hotel room. This new campaign, she said, is much broader in its scope and objective.

“With this campaign [You Are Here], we’re trying to shine a light on our portfolio of brands connected to our loyalty program,” Timpone said. “We want them to think of all the different brands and occasions they could have at our hotels. We haven’t done that before.”

Emphasizing Experiences

One of the biggest components of the new campaign is its emphasis on Marriott’s new Experiences Marketplace, which launched in May. Similar to Starwood Preferred Guest’s (SPG) experiences, it gives members access to specially curated events and activities around the world.

Some of those unique experiences leverage Marriott’s partnerships with the NFL, NBA, and Universal Music Group, as well as promote You Are Here. On Sept. 22, for example, Demi Lovato and DNCE will hold an exclusive concert for Marriott Rewards members at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles. In October, Marriott will introduce Londoners to American-style tailgating at the NFL on Regent Street 2016 event, hosting 150 Marriott Rewards members who will get to see the Indianapolis Colts play the Jacksonville Jaguars across the pond.

Casting booths, similar to photo booths, will be placed at various Marriott Rewards events, inviting people to share their travel stories, and reporters from Marriott Traveler will also be at hand to interview members and cover their stories online.

Exploring New Platforms

The digital component of the You Are Here campaign will launch on social platforms that include Facebook and Instagram.

You Are Here will also be a testing ground for Marriott’s use of the Facebook Canvas tool, which allows businesses to tell immersive, visual-heavy stories through Facebook with the ability to embed videos, image carousels, and panoramic images. Videos on Instagram will also promote the campaign.

Earlier this year, Marriott was a launch brand for Facebook’s new Dynamic Ads feature, which allows brands to target consumers as they move from site to site, and from desktop to device.

Timpone said that although Marriott has dabbled in virtual reality and Snapchat previously, it won’t be launching You Are Here through those mediums just yet.

Marriott’s media sponsorship with CNN and CNNi will also enable the hotel company to promote You Are Here in more than 126 countries around the world, with content features as well as digital and social integrations.

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Tags: brand marketing, hotel marketing, marriott

Photo credit: Marriott's newest global ad campaign, "You Are Here," emphasizes the company's Marriott Rewards loyalty program benefits. Mariott International

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