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The latest installment of Marriott’s Two Bellmen short film series, showcasing the JW Marriott Hotels brand, was publicly premiered in Korea earlier today.
Following the first two videos produced at JW properties in Los Angeles and Dubai, the extended 35-minute Two Bellmen Three was shot on location at JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul.
Aligning Creative and Culture
According to David Beebe, VP global creative + content marketing, Marriott, the film was based in Korea this time around to showcase the global nature of the brand and its sensitivity to different global cultures. The strategy behind the storytelling also focused on attracting the highly lucrative Asian weddings and romance market.
Professional actors Jessica Jung and Ki Hong Lee play a Korean couple in the film who want to get married against the best wishes of Jung’s character’s parents, because Hong Lee’s character wants to follow his dreams of being a K-pop singer versus working in the family business. Adding to the challenges for the couple, Jung’s character’s father gave up his dream of becoming a soccer player in order to start the family business to provide for his wife and children.
Cue any number of Asian Millennial psychographic profiles and societal mores there.
“We’ve always wanted to tell a family and weddings story,” said Beebe. “The first films were themed in and around business travel and technology in California and Dubai. So this one focused on Korea, which has a very strong wedding and family culture, and how important that culture is, and how different it is in Korea.”
The second storyline features the two central JW Marriott bellmen characters — Christian and Gage, played by Caine Sinclair and William Spencer — using their parkour skills to represent JW in the “Global Bellmen Games,” which isn’t a real thing in case you’re wondering.
Like the two previous films, a good percentage of the footage is invested in Christian and Gage’s gravity-defying action scenes, while effortlessly catering to the whims of hotel guests at the same time. In all of the films in this series, there are some campy scenes showing a work culture that emphasizes gracious service delivery and teamwork even under extreme duress.
That balance of entertainment and brand messaging, without the messaging being obvious, is this content marketing platform’s biggest strength, although some older audiences will find the production just a little too campy.
Unlike the first two films, especially the second in Dubai, Two Bellmen Three doesn’t highlight the destination’s attractions as much as previously. The majority of the film was shot indoors, which is somewhat surprising from a North American perspective, because Beebe has emphasized in the past that Marriott’s content should always inspire people to travel. Usually, that means highlighting the unique aspects of the destination.
Except, in this case, Marriott isn’t really catering to the North American perspective.
“In Korea, because marriage and family, and who people chose to marry, and what each person does, and their status, etc., is so very important in Korean culture, we leaned in with a more heavy story around the wedding couple,” said Beebe. “I don’t want to say it’s not for a U.S. audience, but we produced this so it was really relatable to our source markets in China and the rest of Asia, versus showing more of Korea’s tourist sites.”
The Business Case Behind Two Bellmen
Marriott runs a lot of paid media on all of their different social channels to drive traffic to the films. The original Two Bellmen has 5.1 million YouTube views, while the sequel has 7.9 million. Beebe said that the films have “completion rates of 80 percent and above,” which he feels validates the creative strategy driving the Two Bellmen franchise.
On the business side, Marriott is selling Two Bellmen packages to take advantage of the brand lift following the film’s release.
“We’re also capturing all of that user data, especially on YouTube,” explained Beebe. “With five to seven million views each, that’s actually a lot of data we get back that we can use to retarget those people with other forms of marketing.”