Marriott misses the mark, again.

Marriott International’s new  brand campaign running for over a year now succeeds in at least one thing. It answers the famous question : “Which half of advertising is wasted?”. In this case it is both the halves.

Why should anybody  add Marriott to its consideration set by seeing an ad with staff waltzing/leaping around in white, black and red ?


The campaign is using international dance forms as a metaphor to express Marriott’s global reach and the synchronicity of its staff (see video here).

Client (Marriott’s brand marketing chief) comments : “We wanted to create a motivating and highly relevant campaign that stands out clearly against the more traditional product-led approach to business advertising. We chose ‘dance’ as the vehicle because of its inherent synchronicity, visual appeal and the fact that every country has its own cultural variations. The campaign speaks to our achievement-driven business travelers across the globe in a language that allows us to portray the diversity of our Marriott hotel offering and demonstrate how our hotels work in perfect harmony to support the needs of these travelers. And, through this performance metaphor, we are saying that although business styles differ from country to country, you should enjoy the same effortless experience wherever you are.  Our Marriott hotels and staff are focused on making it easier for these achievers to concentrate of performing at their best all the time. We are confident that travelers will relate to our message.”

Agency (AMP London) comments : “The Marriott brand is about good quality, great service and high standards. The problem is that it lacks the energy and emotion that people expect from a business hotel experience”

2 big issues here:

a. Wrong activity : This marketing activity doesn’t address the real issue with the brand- its product offering and experience. I have blogged before (read here) about the weakness in Marriott’s product/service experience. Spending money on a global brand campaign when the product experience hasn’t been fixed is unacceptable. Marriott’s standards have slipped and it shows.

b. Weak Idea : Even if we assume there is serious effort going on to upgrade the experience ( I cant see it in Asia yet though ) , the communication idea i.e. using dance as a platform to showcase the passion of the staff is neither strongly relevant nor campaignable. In an attempt to be differentiated (“…campaign that stands out clearly against the more traditional product-led approach to business advertising”) relevance has been sacrificed and its difficult to see how this campaign will evolve. I am sure “ad recall” will be good, but since when was that a good measure of effectiveness.

15 responses to “Marriott misses the mark, again.

  1. The more I read about your blog the more I am convinced that “product superiority” isn’t the silver bullet that would strengthen your brand equity and double your brand share. A small brand will always suffer from the “credibility” issue with this “product superiority” claim. Of course I am not saying that product is not important, but perhaps product parity (in a blind test) is not bad at all if we have a compelling product story.

    Come to think of it, I haven’t come across any leading brand claiming product superiority as it is a given, only the No.2 to N0.10 would claim that. Perhaps product superiority is already a “hygiene factor” (a given) rather than a “motivational factor”, just like “quality” is always a given in premium brands!

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