A Puppy For President?

Ordinarily, it would not be wise for a hotel brand to get political — why alienate a large minority of your customers? But during an election season with so much focus on the news, there are ways to tap into the interest without taking sides.

A few elections ago, Holiday Inn made a big and positive splash by monitoring where presidential candidates were staying, then comparing the cost of those hotels with the nearest Holiday Inn to show how much the candidates could have saved by staying with the brand. The savings were constantly updated and garnered tremendous interest at a time when “going viral” was still in its early days.

There has not been much of that kind of promotion recently (although there was quite a bit of interest in Donald Trump’s staying in a Holiday Inn Express while campaigning in Iowa early this year). But one hotel is jumping in with another campaign that is pretty much guaranteed not to be controversial.



The Jefferson, a 90-year-old hotel and member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts located less than a mile from the White House in Washington, D.C., has a “hotel beagle” named Lord Monticello (after Jefferson’s estate). He’s called Monti for short. The adorable doggie, who holds the title Executive Canine Officer, greets guests and generally makes them feel welcome in return for treats and belly rubs. But with a recent Twitter post, Monti announced that he is running for president. He now has an ongoing Instagram campaign (@thejeffersondc and @lordmonti; or #Monti4Prez.)

As leader of, yes, the Leash Party, Monti’s slogan is “A Sniff in the Right Direction.” He even has a campaign platform; it includes:

1. Free bacon for all

2. The elimination of squirrels nation-wide

3. Fair wages for all hotel dogs

4. The dog’s right to choose whether or not to live with a cat

5. Continuing care for all senior dogs

6. Adoption of all dogs worldwide

7. Fighting for the rights of all beagles

8. Fighting climate change (so no dog will ever have to wear a raincoat again)

And of course, there is a give-back element. Contributors to his Super PAW (get it? like Super PAC) will have their contributions donated to the Partnership for Animal Welfare, which helps with the rescue and adoption of homeless animals. 

Sure, these campaigns are silly but they deliver the messages that the brands want. In the case of that old Holiday Inn campaign, it was about cost — getting a high-quality stay without overspending, a good lesson for a potential president. And in the case of The Jefferson, it demonstrates how truly pet-friendly the hotel is in a marketplace where many hotels boast of that attribute. And it shows how a hotel, although it is historic and formal in some ways, can be fun as well. 

These campaigns show that any subject is addressable — as long as it’s done with humor, creativity — and with a marketing goal in mind. 

As the political conventions begin — and if they are not cheering you up — think about Monti. And then think about subjects that might seem untouchable but which, if approached properly, can set your brand or product apart.

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