Wyndham Hotel Group's Howard Johnson hotel chain has inked a deal that makes the hotel chain the official hotel of the Harlem Globetrotters. The effort will include such promotions as "The Give Happy Challenge," dangling $15,000.
To enter the challenge, people have to go to TheGiveHappyChallenge.com and submit a video clip or an essay that illustrates how their ideas spread happiness by March 15. Eight finalists, aided by stars from the Globetrotters, will be featured on the site for public voting.
The Parsippany, N.J.-based hotel chain will sponsor the team's 2010 North American tour, "Magical Memories," which begins Dec. 26 with a domestic schedule that includes 269 games in 216 markets covering 44 U.S. states, five Canadian provinces and Puerto Rico. A rep for the Globetrotters said the partnership makes sense because "Howard Johnson wants family vacation customers, and the Harlem Globetrotters is all about families, so it's a natural fit."
Rui Barros, brand SVP for Howard Johnson and Travelodge, tells Marketing Daily that about 77% of Howard Johnson customers are leisure travelers; about 14% are business and 9% are a mix of the two. He says the partnership is the first since HoJo partnered with Crayola around 2000. The effort includes TV and online ads that cross-promote the Globetrotters.
The Globetrotters will be integrated into the "Go Happy" campaign that Howard Johnson launched last year. The ads feature claymation-type figures that do things like ride a cheetah through a hotel lobby, jump on a bed and fly through a HoJo roof to demonstrate how nice the beds are. "We are revising spots to incorporate the Globetrotters," says Barros, who adds that while the media buy hasn't been finalized, the ads will definitely run on JumboTron screens at game venues.
Barros says that the Globetrotters fit six parameters the hotel chain looks for in a marketing partner. "First, we look for brands to complement our positioning: what the brand stands for, their demographics. The Globetrotters are a classic brand that has been around a long time, and like us, have contemporized. Next, they have a strong PR leg. Brand equity is another one.
"We have been around for 80-plus years, and want to make sure we are partnering with brand with similar equity; we are about the same age," he says, noting that Howard Johnson has some 10,000 fans on its Facebook page. "Media value is also critical for a partnership, on both sides. How can we help each other from a media perspective? And we look for partners that can offer local extensions that help our franchisees -- is there an opportunity to package accommodations with game tickets, for example?"
Other Globetrotters 2010 sponsors include Campbell Soup, Spalding and America's Best, a 400-location eyewear and contact lens retailer -- all for one year with an option.