Whether it’s supporting natural disaster relief efforts or speaking out against violence, racial tension and unrest across America, brands are increasingly aligning their messaging and motives behind causes activist consumers care about the most.
It’s part of the complex career for today’s marketer, who often has to painstakingly juggle decisions between paid media budgets and political stances. In the wake of this week’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, top marketing and media executives went public and wrote a letter calling for gun safety laws.
Fifty-seven percent of consumers will buy or boycott a brand solely because of its position on a social or political issue, according to a June report from Edelman.
Hyatt is highlighting its vision of promoting unity and understanding by celebrating its fiftieth anniversary with Come Together, a branded-content short film that documents the story of how the Hyatt Regency Atlanta was among the first hotels in the city to open its doors to civil rights leaders who were looking to congregate for the 11th annual Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1967.
At a time when others weren’t as welcoming, Hyatt opened its doors and underscored that a message of understanding transcends politics. Earlier this year in an Oscars ad campaign, Hyatt celebrated cultural differences by featuring a woman wearing a hijab.
Now, the hospitality brand is commemorating “Hotel of Hope” and its history of inclusivity by collaborating with spoken word artist Tarriona “Tank” Ball and director Simon Benjamin for the film as part of the next chapter for the hotel chain’s “For a World of Understanding” campaign.
“When people come together and allow their commonalities to supersede their differences, they cloak themselves in a suit of armor, galvanized by openmindness,” Ball says in the two-and-a-half-minute spot. “We cannot walk a mile in one another’s shoes until we get close enough to put them on. And we cannot step foot in this new world of understanding until we all acknowledge.”
Sandra Cordova Micek, senior vice president of global brands at Hyatt, and Debra Goetz, senior vice president of marketing and communications at Hyatt, joined AListDaily to explain why amplifying a message of hope and inclusion is reassuring in such troubled times.
Why is it important now more than ever for brands to take a stand and promote a message of unity?
Cordova Micek: Hyatt is a 60-year old company, and our purpose—caring for people so they can be their best—has always been our north star. It guides how we engage with guests, how we interact with colleagues and owners, developers, suppliers and vendors and how we operate our business. It’s our purpose that continues to differentiate us in the marketplace and what our 100,000 colleagues around the world deliver on every day. We believe it’s more important now than ever to show each other care and understanding.
Why is it critical to focus brand marketing centering around diversity and inclusion? What have been your primary learnings from that messaging?
Cordova Micek: It was important for us to focus on those key tenets because it’s at the core of our business and everything we do. We’re committed to engaging our diverse community to make sure they feel included and understood. This ranges from the way to engage with them to the meaningful and trusted experiences we provide. The events that took place at Hyatt Regency Atlanta 50 years ago created a tradition of inclusion acceptance and understanding that the brand still celebrates today. Come Together, which is inspired by those events, encourages people to unite to truly understand one another, regardless of politics, culture, race or religion. This story is a natural expression of our ‘World of Hyatt’ platform, which is built on the simple idea that a little understanding goes a long way. The biggest learning for us is that this story still resonates with people around the world today, beyond our Hyatt family. It’s been remarkable to see how the message of understanding is just as relevant today as it was in 1967.
What is Come Together designed to accomplish from a brand marketing standpoint for Hyatt?
Cordova Micek: The Hyatt Regency brand has a rich history of bringing people together to build community and share unique ideas and new perspectives. From its inception, Hyatt Regency has been truly innovative—from architecture and design to meetings and conventions. In fact, Hyatt Regency Atlanta—the first in the Hyatt Regency portfolio—was the first atrium-style hotel designed by the legendary John Portman . . . The film celebrates the incredible brilliant things that can happen when groups come together and shows the world Hyatt’s purpose—caring for people so they can be their best.
What insights can you share from the “World of Hyatt” brand platform? What’s the rollout and targeting strategy looking like for the rest of the year?
Goetz: Come Together is an extension of our recently launched World of Hyatt platform, which is built on a simple belief that a little understanding goes a long way, and further underscores the amazing things that happen when groups come together. Understanding is at the root of everything we do, so the ‘World of Hyatt’ platform is naturally woven through all of our efforts. This includes the content we create and share, the partnerships we forge and the activations we execute across all of our sub-brands. Another example of putting empathy into action this year is our collaboration with non-profits Learning AFAR and No Barriers USA. Through this program, we provided 11 underserved Chicago-area high school students and one educator the opportunity to attend a life-changing 10-day trip to Costa Rica designed to help them better understand themselves and the world around them. This fall we will help them share their story, and celebrate their experience. We will continue to find ways to share incredible stories of caring for people to be their best.
How is your marketing budget shifting to constantly tweak brand strategy based on consumer habits? Are there any new marketing platforms you plan on testing?
Cordova Micek: Our marketing strategy continues to evolve with the media landscape and with how our guests consume the news. For example, our Hyatt Regency guest is a business traveler who is both ambitious and has an entrepreneurial spirit, so partnering with a leading news site like The Atlantic, which offers a mix of tech, culture and business news, makes strategic sense. This thinking goes much deeper than a marketing strategy—as a hotel brand, it’s the way we approach our business. We recognize that there are several different types of travelers out there with their own set of needs and priorities, and we’re constantly developing and refining our existing brands—which each have a unique personality—to cater to these diverse audiences. We also make sure we’re through with strategic acquisitions like Miraval for the wellness-focused traveler, and even the creation of new brands when warranted, like our newly launched brand The Unbound Collection by Hyatt, which endows guests with social currency.
Come Together debuted on The Atlantic. Why are marketers increasingly partnering to work with publishers? What do digital collaborations underscore for Hyatt?
Cordova Micek: We chose to work with The Atlantic because we felt like it would be the ideal partner due to the type of content it features and its focus on creating understanding in the world through the stories they share. Through our partnership, we were able to provide additional insight and research into the events that inspired the film. Digital partnerships such as these allow us to tell additional layers to the stories around our brands in an authentic way. The Atlantic also included an in-depth written profile and video interview on Xernona Clayton, a civil rights leader who was in attendance at the 11th Annual Session of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference at Hyatt Regency Atlanta 50 years ago, as well as interviews with Ball. In addition to the content hub on The Atlantic’s site, there are a series of banners that are running within the site. The effort is also supported with targeted paid social media on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
What are some other verticals and platforms that Hyatt would like to experiment with in the future for their marketing mix?
Cordova Micek: Whenever we launch a campaign or initiative, we always like to experiment with new platforms and mediums which can best tell our story and best reach our audience. Because Come Together had a very timely message and featured engaging, highly shareable content, a digital campaign was the perfect medium to spread the message of understanding in a space where our audience is engaging and sharing. As another example, when we launched ‘World of Hyatt’ it was important for us to foster understanding within our own community and amongst our colleagues. We literally gave our colleagues the opportunity to see the world through another’s eyes by offering eight Hyatt colleagues across the globe Spectacles by Snap. to offer them new perspectives. These stories were then woven together and shared internally and externally through social media and other channels.
What are the big shifts in marketing that are currently shaping the hospitality industry?
Cordova Micek: The ability to create rich and engaging content where both our existing and new guests are will continue to be a primary focus in the industry. For us at Hyatt, it’s all about creating content that allows us to understand our guests and each other. One way we’re connecting with people is through storytelling. These ownable and relevant moments allow us to tell our brand’s unique voices in a way that only our brands could tell. A large majority of our consumers are consuming their content online and through social, so we want to make sure that’s where we are and our message is resonating with them in an authentic way.