We often think of content marketing as something like a blog post or viral video. But Marriott Hotels is taking content marketing a step further. Marriott recently released the third in a series of short films showcas Marriott hotels … except the hotels are just the settings, not the main focus.

Business Unusual

The most recent video is called Business Unusual. It centers around two ad men pitching ads to a new client. There’s an element of competition, since one of the executives is the former intern of the other. So what makes this film content marketing and not just a creative project? The majority of the action takes place at the Marriot Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.

The film demonstrates a high level of production value: not exactly a Hollywood blockbuster, but significantly higher than something like a web series. It features minor character actors with TV credits like Ugly Betty and General Hospital. In short, it’s a pretty quality film considering its being made by a hotel chain.

A Grand Experiment

Business Unusual is the third video in this experimental campaign. French Kiss, another film, is a love story that showcases the beautiful Paris Marriott Hotel Champs-Elysees. The first Marriott movie, Two Bellmen, is about, you guessed it, two bellmen. These men stop an armed robbery at the JW Marriott Los Angeles hotel. Although the plots are a bit simple, the movies are heightened by their creative dance sequences, catchy music, and bright visuals.

The campaign is more than just the videos: Marriott also now offers special travel packages related to the films. A package based on French Kiss included champagne and generated half a million dollars in 60 days.

With these movies, the content marketing team at Marriott hopes the films will associate Marriott with romance, action, and adventure. Each film also features key tourist destinations in each city, enticing travelers to come visit.

Why It Works

We often think of online viewers as having short attention spans, but it turns out that the 20-minute runtime of these movies isn’t hurting their success. For example, French Kiss has had over six million views on Youtube and an 80 percent rate for completed viewings.

Think about how many times you’ve skipped a 3-minute ad on Youtube. And yet, people are engaging in a 20-minute long ad. In fact, some people have been watching these videos BECAUSE they were intrigued by the ad preview. One YouTube comment on Two Bellmen says “Who else didn’t skip the ad?” Turns out, people are seeing the first few minutes of these movies as Youtube commercials but then not skipping the ad…because it doesn’t feel like one. Content marketing at its best prioritizes the content over the marketing: in doing so, the marketing becomes more successful.

Marriott could have made a series of 3-minute ads showcasing their fancy hotel rooms, elaborate bars, or special packages. But instead of telling you how nice their hotels are, they show you. Business Unusual may be about sales pitches, but this film feels like anything but.

Time will tell if this sort of sponsored creative content becomes the new normal, but so far its been working well for Marriott. Whether your brand is making a short film or a blog post, the same principles of content marketing apply:

  • You want to give your customers something they can use. In this case, Marriott is entertaining their customers.
  • You want content that sets you apart. Anyone can make an ad, but it takes creativity to make memorable content.
  • You want to showcase your brand in a way that doesn’t feel like a pitch. In terms of blog posts, this might mean including a call-to-action at the end of a how-to post.

With content marketing, it’s possible to tell everyone how awesome your brand is without ever even uttering that thought. Just look at these videos. They tell viewers: Marriott hotels are beautiful, Marriott hotels lead to adventure, Marriott hotels are a great way to travel and see the sights. But these films never actually say these things in their dialogue.

These films prove the value of high-quality content creation. Want to hear more content marketing success stories? Click here!