With travel returning to somewhat normalcy in this year, travel brands have been more aggressive in marketing spend to lure travellers to their destinations and services.
According to Julie Purser, VP of marketing, loyalty and partnerships for APAC at Marriott, three out of four travellers in the region are ready to travel the world again. But the brand’s research shows that nearly half of them simply want to get away. According to Purser, it’s not necessarily about visiting a dream destination or having a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, but rather, it’s about getting away and experiencing the ‘little moments’ in travel to remind themselves why they love to travel.
This insight helped to inform ‘Here’, the latest campaign for Marriott Bonvoy, Marriott’s loyalty programme. Purser and her team wanted to lean into these little moments and remind people of the joy of travel while depicting these unscripted moments instead of picture-perfect sceneries.
‘Here’ marks the brand’s first campaign since it handed its APAC creative mandate to TSLA in May. This campaign is built off last year’s ‘Where Can We Take You’ which was launched to recognise the power of travel. ‘Here’ is specifically focused on communicating to travellers in APAC (excluding Greater China) to enjoy the return of travel. A separate campaign for Greater China will launch in September.
As much as Marriott is a hospitality brand—the biggest in the world, in fact, with nearly 8,000 properties globally—‘Here’ is not a campaign that particularly highlights the hotels and services within the company. Instead, it wants to remind travellers of the funny, expected moments one might have on a trip.
“We wanted to focus on the things you really remember when you think about travel, the stories you tell, the memories you have, the funny things that happen along the way,” Purser told Campaign Asia-Pacific. “We wanted to really lean into that part of travel versus the glamour. We didn’t want to overly emphasise the view of a destination. Our goals were really to drive awareness of Marriott Bonvoy, to inspire people with our destinations, and to have a light touch on our brands.”
Nicholas Ye, founder and creative chief at TSLA, told Campaign Asia-Pacific that the team wanted the brand film to “scratch the travel itch” and make one want to grab their passport and book in their leave dates.
Production wise, Ye said that stock-like imagery and big gestures often found in other travel campaigns were deliberately avoided.
“It was one of those [ideas] that we didn't have to over-explain too much,” he said. “From start to finish, the campaign was just was built on the feeling of a holiday, the feeling of travel. And it still gives us goosebumps when we look at the different pieces. Personally, as a creative director, I don't see anything like it. Especially from this part of the world.
The campaign was filmed in six different cities, and Ye’s team decided to simultaneously shoot it with different cameras. The challenge there was looking for the right kind of craftspeople and cinematographers in the local cities as well as to make sure that the right lenses and aspect ratios were being used so that the footage could be edited seamlessly.
“When we put all this together, it feels like a really beautiful stream of consciousness,” said Ye. “It’s a film that feels incredibly real, and almost a bit casual. And it’s got a certain filmic quality to it as well.”
The campaign, which will run till year-end, includes a core 60-second film, a 30-second version, eight 15-second films, and eight six-second films, and stills. Digital OOH assets will be set up at key locations such as Seoul’s Gimpo airport, the Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, and on Singapore Airlines’ in-flight entertainment. Marriott also worked with TikTok to create a hashtag challenge and a separate fit-for-purpose social campaign on Instagram.
“The film really serves as grounding the idea of ‘Here’ and it carries through all of the executions, but we really tried to build it in a way that it's fit for the media channel it's going to be running on,” Purser explained. Marriott’s media-buying is handled by Marriott One Media, a unit under Publicis Groupe.
Purser added that revenue is not a direct goal of this campaign, but she hopes that ‘Here’ will continue to get travellers back on the road and help them decide to choose Marriott as their travel partner.
As a marketer, Purser said that Marriott’s approach changed drastically during the pandemic as they took a hyperlocal approach and focused on domestic travel, staycations, and food and beverage services. Fast forward to present day, the brand now wants to share the breadth of its portfolio with travellers and go back to inspiring its audiences.
“We went from all inspiration and travel pre-pandemic to being hyperlocal during the pandemic,” said Purser. “And now we're going back, but we're trying to do it in a way that that recognises that travel has changed, and people have changed. And we've all just been through this really hard time. Now we want to inspire people, but we want to do it in a way that feels authentic to where we are.”