When a global hotel chain takes on Hollywood to promote its brands
FILM/TV: It publishes glossy colour magazines to reflect the high-end standards offered by its hotels. Now, conglomerate Marriott International hopes to replicate the same brand messaging by taking on Hollywood.
Marriott is scheduled to release Two Bellmen (trailer), its first in-house produced original short film, on 10 March.
Created by Global Content Studio, the Marriott International entertainment subsidiary launched last September, the 15-minute film will be globally distributed via YouTube.
Simultaneously, it will be the centre of attention at a world premiere gala screening at one of Marriott’s luxury outlets, the hotel JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live with its roof top pool and bar.
Two Bellmen, an art-heist action comedy, features luxury settings, well-heeled characters, their affluent lifestyles, money, guns, plus gravity-defying stunts by Substance Over Hype, a collective of performers specialising in dance, parkour, extreme sports, martial arts and music. Whether movie fans will take to Two Bellmen and the lead characters, two hotel porters, as seriously as the George Clooney-starring Ocean’s Eleven and its sequels is another matter.
The involvement of David Beebe, Two Bellmen’s executive producer, Content Studio’s boss and Marriott International’s global creative and content marketing vice president, hints at Marriott’s long-term ambitions on the branded entertainment stage. Beebe’s background includes senior digital posts at CBS subscription TV network Showtime and Disney-ABC Television Group. Two Bellmen has attracted major Hollywood stars like Henry Simmons (pictured below), who plays a lead in the ABC Studios-made Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; and Sophina Brown, who has starred in Numb3rs, CBS’ crime series.
Marriott is the latest brand owner to hike its investments in branded entertainment, branded content, native advertising…although they can’t agree on what to call it.
Instead of 30-second commercials, they’ve chosen to entertain consumers with cinema and TV-standard productions to raise brand awareness. Original entertainment starring a brand is much more open to social-media sharing and multi-platform distribution. Forecasts by ZenithOptimedia and Magna Global indicate global digital advertising (including branded entertainment) threatens to outstrip TV in terms of advertisers’ budget.
In addition to the YouTube premiere, Marriott International is planning to make Two Bellmen and its other planned TV series and films available on digital mobile devices, its websites, cinema theatres and the TV screens in its network of hotel rooms worldwide. As the world’s largest hospitality group, Marriott boasts rooms in 4,000 hotels in 78 countries. The JW Marriott brand alone is forecast to grow to 100 luxury properties in 30 countries by 2019 from the existing 69 hotels in 26 countries.
Moreover, Marriott’s Content Studio productions will automatically be marketed to the hotel group’s 47 million Marriott Reward members. And, remember, YouTube has 1 billion registered users. Whatever your feelings about branded entertainment, that is a large number of eyeballs for a first-time video-entertainment production.