Marriott: Advertising Brilliantly

Marriott’s latest “Travel Brilliantly” marketing campaign is excellent. They are delivering “brilliance” to travelers through design and they are communicating it in a remarkable way.

I first saw the new Marriott campaign while reading an article on the New York Times website. The ad unit was large, atypically sized and it did a good job drawing my attention away from the article that I was planning to read and enticing me to engage with an animated “Expand” button next to their tagline.

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I liked this initial frame of the advertisement for what it tells the consumer about Marriott. What is it communicating?

First, it communicates that Marriott stands out. There is a lot that is happening in this cityscape and in the midst of everything that is happening, Marriott is the cynosure. Marriott accomplishes that with a large edifice that has beautiful outward design that gives a glimpse into the beauty that is contained within. This design also speaks to Marriott’s brand as a whole. Marriott has a huge brand, but they want consumers to know that “big” doesn’t necessarily mean “not special”, “not beautiful”, “not enticing”.

Consumers have lots of options to choose from – Marriott wants them to know that their hotel is a standout.

It is worth noting that there is a building in the distance in this photo. What is that building? Another hotel? It doesn’t matter – it can’t compare to what our eyes are drawn to behold. All eyes are on Marriott.

Second, it communicates that Marriott is where you want to be. I’m not sure what city this is, but it looks like a city i’d love to visit and explore. Marriott wants consumers to know that they are in the places we want to be and they are ready to add to our experiences in brilliant ways when we do go.

Third, it communicates that Marriott is where you go. There is a reader who sees this ad and knows exactly what city this is. They know this city because they travel there for work – but they’ve never really looked at this city in this way. Similar to the person who knows aspirationally that Marriott is where they want to be, this second person now knows aspirationally that Marriott is where they go and it can add to their familiar experience in brilliant ways.

This ad would be complete if it were entirely comprised of just the one picture above – it speaks volumes – but Marriott invites us to see how they add to traveler’s experiences in brilliant ways. This is what we see when the ad is expanded:

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Absolutely awesome. I love this because it gives a glimpse into the bigger story that Marriott is telling when they invite us to Travel Brilliantly. Namely, they are telling us that traveling with Marriott will be a beautiful experience because Marriott places the consumer at the center of everything they do. The consumer is also at the center of this ad campaign and how Marriott speaks to the consumer in the rest of this execution is genius.

It starts with Marriott establishing that they meet consumer needs in brilliant ways. They’ve built a personal concierge app. Let your mind run away with what that can mean because that is exactly what they want it to do. Not only are they here to serve consumers brilliantly, they’re going to do it in the way that all convenient things in life are done  – through mobile. I love the example they use because we all know the devastation that is forgetting a charger – Marriott wants consumers to know that they’ve got them covered in every case.

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This campaign continues along the theme of Marriott designing an experience with the consumer in mind. Why shouldn’t the tables in the room move with consumers? Why shouldn’t they be able to comfortably eat in the place that is often the best location in the hotel room to watch tv? Consumers want to be able to do it, Marriott designs an experience that makes it easy for them to do it – and they communicate this experience with simplicity and beauty.

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Consumers shouldn’t have to charge their phone in a place that doesn’t allow them easy access to their phones. For that matter, it shouldn’t be difficult to find a place to plug in whatever it is that needs to be plugged in. It is simple, but so many other hotels get the simple things wrong. A hotel room isn’t just bed, bath and beyond flat screen television – the consumer expects it to be more. If the consumer, through their experience to date, doesn’t have this expectation – Marriott is raising their expectations with this ad campaign.

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We needn’t think beyond the fact that, next to kitchens, bathrooms are the best investment a homeowner can make to increase the perceived value of their house. In this case, bathrooms that feel like spas will significantly add to the perceived value of the Marriott experience. There’s just something special about a beautiful bathroom – and Marriott is aiming to deliver on what consumers want from a bathroom by delivering a spa – and again – they’re communicating it simply and beautifully.

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Marriott also wants the traveler to know that their focus on the traveler expands beyond the hotel room. This image conveys an elegant lounge that serves elegant drinks. I didn’t love this as much as I loved the other images in this ad campaign (probably because it deviates from showing a happy consumer), but knowing that Marriott’s brilliance expands to every area of the hotel is something that instills even more of a preference for Marriott in the heart of the traveler.

From a big picture perspective, what I love about this ad campaign is how they’re building a preference for their brilliant travel experience while delivering this experience at a competitive rate. Lest we forget – the Marriott is not a luxury hotel, they’re just delivering what feels like luxury by having a consumer-centered design philosophy. With that said -with this experience and this marketing communication, they will certainly be able to command a higher average nightly rate.

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The last page of the slider is an invitation to the traveler to contribute to the traveler-centered innovation that is taking place at Marriott. Marriott is doing many things right and they want travelers to know that they want to continue to brilliantly deliver in new and consumer-focused ways. Following the link on the last page of the ad took me to a place where even more marketing art was on display, but for the sake of scope and brevity (of which I have already stretched the limits) I will save that for another time.

Until next time.

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