Hyatt, BBDO Execs Dish On Creative Switcheroo

by , Sep 24, 2009, 4:52 PM
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Hyatt AdvertisementHyatt Hotels and Resorts is preparing to launch its next campaign, the latest for Hyatt in a year that has seen the hotel chain launch its first global TV ads and its first digital buzz campaign using consumer-made videos.

It has indeed been a year of surprises for the company, whose relatively new SVP of brand communications (a newly created position), Amy Curtis-McIntyre, shared a stage at the Association of National Advertisers Agency/Client Forum on Thursday with John Osborn, president/CEO of Hyatt's agency, BBDO, New York.

The forthcoming effort promotes the hotel chain for its conference amenities with the tag line "Great Happens." It launches on the first of October with outdoor and print elements, including one in New York City subways in which business people appear to shake hands when the subway doors slide shut.

Curtis-McIntyre, who came to Hyatt from JetBlue, where she was founding CMO, spoke about the campaign as part of a tête-à-tête with Osborn. Hyatt Hotels tapped BBDO a year ago for the company's first major TV effort in years, "You're More Than Welcome." They spoke about how the economic meltdown forced the company to rethink its creative strategy.

"You're More Than Welcome" almost didn't happen, per Curtis-McIntyre, who said the 60-second anthem commercial was in mid-shoot when the bottom fell out of the economy. The ad -- the chain's first global commercial ever -- was a big-budget spot shot in multiple international locales with some 57 different shots.

The company and agency decided to finish the spot and air it as planned because, as Osborn recounted, Hyatt had media buys it couldn't get out of and needed content for it. "And [we had] an aching need for a centralizing idea, a whole new strategic framework."

Curtis-McIntyre, who came to Hyatt in May last year, said it was difficult to get marketing into the mix at a company that had been operations-, sales- and real estate-driven. She said that digging into data and analytics with a fresh set of eyes gave her and the agency permission to do more creative communications and marketing "than I would have ever been able to do without that [data] backbone," she said.

That initial anthem ad ran for four weeks. But the marketing dollars were suddenly tight. "We had to make one dollar seem like ten dollars," said Osborn.

They opted to focus on re-launching the Hyatt Gold Passport loyalty program and go forward with a customer service and PR revamping that involved training every single employee who worked at Hyatt hotels around the world on the "You're More Than Welcome" approach.

"It was a huge training program with internal communications, so every single employee was involved," said Osborn. "But it wasn't about a hollow promise; we wanted them to make it personal."

The company launched a consumer-content program called "The Big Welcome" to sell Hyatt Gold Passport with a promotion: Post a video for why you should win a million airline miles and 365 free nights at any Hyatt hotel on Earth. Entrants' videos had to detail just what they would do with that many free hotel stays. The program ran in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and North America with a winner from each continent. Hyatt and BBDO turned the top three videos into ads.

"We shot all three in one day for $150,000," said Curtis-McIntyre. The effort garnered one billion media impressions across online, print and email; over 700,000 hits on YouTube and over 300 placements in unpaid media. Osborn said the results delivered over 4,000% based on metrics like signups of new Gold Passport members.

"It was an extraordinary win for us," said Curtis-McIntyre, who said that next year the company would do "a lot more marketing."

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