JW Marriott Ditches Commercials And Experiments With Branded Content

Is advertising dying? Gabe Leydon, CEO of one of the world’s largest gaming companies Machine Zone, seems to believe so. You can read his critiques and watch his full interview at Re:Code/Media conference earlier this year here. And Leydon isn’t alone.

David Beebe, a former media and marketing exec at Disney-ABC Television Group, who currently serves as the head of creative and content marketing at the global hotel brand Marriott International, recently announced that Marriott’s own content studio will be producing and distributing more of their own branded content.

Move Over Commercials, Story-Driven Content Is Here

Marketing ROI Formula Download Consumers have grown weary of commercials that interrupt their viewing experience. They download and are even willing to pay for ad blockers to avoid seeing ads they do not want or need.

And Beebe reiterates what many content marketers have been saying for years, “You can’t just make a commercial anymore. You have to create something of value.” To get the attention of today’s consumers, your content needs to be relevant, useful and adds value to your intended audience.

Rather than investing in commercials, Beebe’s team focuses on creating story-driven branded content such as short films and documentary-style TV programs, which consumers can watch on various distribution channels, including Marriott’s website, in-room entertainment, YouTube and partner channels.

The latest content series Beebe’s team is working on, titled “Open Invitation,” follows Bill Rancic, winner of the first season of The Apprentice, as he travels around the world with his wife, Giuliana Rancic, who you may be familiar with as a former anchor and host at E! network.

The show unsurprisingly will showcase some of Marriott properties and the luxurious experiences Rancic and his wife will enjoy on their adventure visiting JW Marriott, a luxury hotel chain among 30 other Marriott’s global brands.

But unlike a typical hotel commercial that may focus solely on promoting the property and its amenities, the branded content series goes beyond the hotel and explore the city, culture, people and food, very much like a TV travel show – the things that both beginner and seasoned travelers would be interested to learn about when planning for their own trip.

“We want to inspire people to travel the world, or to maybe remind them to go back to cities they’ve visited before and discover something new,” Beebe explained.

The first episode of Open Invitation follows Rancic to Venice, Italy, exploring local cuisines and immersing himself in both tourist as well as hidden attractions recommended by locals, such as visiting a glassmaking factory. Viewers will not only learn more about what the city can offer, but also the stories behind the places and people Rancic meets on his trip.

Published at the end of last month, the first episode has already garnered over 3k views on YouTube. It’d be interesting to follow the rest of the branded content series and see how well it performs. If you’re interested, you can watch the full episode below.

How To Create The Content Your Audience Will Love

Not every brand has the budget and resources to produce the kind of content Marriott does, and if your company doesn’t, you should just give up on content marketing altogether, right? Absolutely not.

An effective content marketing program is a combination of hard work, commitment, time and a solid content marketing strategy, execution and measurement plan.

Your content marketing strategy should identify the objectives you want to accomplish with your content marketing efforts, your audience and existing content gaps, the content types you will produce, a publishing schedule and promotion plan, as well as a measurement strategy to track and communicate your results. Here’s a quick guide that goes through each component of an effective content marketing plan in detail.

Ultimately what will help you reach and convert your target audience is producing and providing content that they want and need. Before you create any content then, put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think about what information they look for when making a purchase decision. What pain points or challenges are they facing? What are their triggers, motivators and goals? What are they interested in reading and learning about?

By providing valuable and relevant content that helps your customers make smarter, better purchasing decisions, you become a trusted advisor and partner to them, which in turn builds trust and credibility with your target audience. So when it’s time to make a purchase, your customers will have more confidence in your brand and will choose to do business with you over your competitors.

Are you interested in engaging and converting new customers for your business? Contact me here and let’s talk about how we can help. Or follow me on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and if you like what you see, Subscribe here for regular updates.

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Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

2 thoughts on “JW Marriott Ditches Commercials And Experiments With Branded Content

  1. Interesting play by Marriott. This may work to increase loyalty and growth from current clientele which is a great strategy, but in terms of growing the next “generation”, I don’t think this platform will meet with expectations. Conceptually, yes, this targeted branding and and will hold interest but when they solely focus on “…various distribution channels, including Marriott’s website, in-room entertainment, YouTube and partner channels”, they will potentially miss a huge “next demographic” who will dismiss them as “not authentic”. Not to wax poetic for too long, I would advise them to utilize this new strategy in concert with traditional and non-traditional advertising…be smarter, wiser, authentic and CX driven.

    1. Thanks Andrew, I think the lesson we can all learn from Marriott is that great storytelling is something their audience tunes INTO vs. traditional ads that we all try to avoid. I agree they can supercharge the effort with traditional spend to promote their best stories and this will help them achieve the goals.

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