AC HOTELS BY MARRIOTT
AC Hotels is a lifestyle hotel brand conceived by Spanish hotelier Antonio Catalan for the modern business traveler. They have an established presence in Europe with 82 locations across the continent, and recently sold to Marriott International to pursue an aggressive global expansion strategy in the US and Asia. There are major plans to expand; over the next two years the US will see 60 new locations, with several hundred planned for mainland China. AC's marketing will be funded on a franchisee model, receiving co-op marketing contributions from operators once new hotels are built. So while there will eventually be a large global marketing pool to draw from, initially we will be working with very modest budgets, especially in the US, where there are presently only five locations, and little to no awareness of the brand. We needed to develop an efficient, ownable way to approach to this assignment.
Research indicated that the hotel category was perceived as being very homogeneous, driven by price-focused aggregators, and cross-usage of hotel chains and loyalty programs. Business hotels in general had a reputation for bad coffee, ugly carpets and 1980s decor. However, with Millennials now representing the largest part of the workforce and changing the face of business travel, they're creating a new lifestyle that fuses work and play. These "bleisure" travelers have high expectations and very different priorities: value (vs price), technology and design. For these people, AC could change the rules of the category, purposefully choosing to deliver high quality essentials, vs a bunch of amenities that no one needs or wants to pay for. We saw that they could position themselves as reinventing the rules, and offering a new way to hotel.
We were inspired by AC's focus on a few beautiful essentials, and decided to make them the building blocks of the brand campaign. The campaign takes modular shots of features, amenities and design from AC properties, and spells out the name "AC Hotels." It's a simple, visually arresting device that memorably communicates the brand name, while celebrating its innovative product offering. In a category that's wall-to-wall with interior shots and stock photography travelers, this new brand idea for AC Hotels breaks the conventions of the category with a simple structure that lends itself to endless variation as the campaign progresses.
Targeting Millennial travelers in relevant context, we made airport a key channel, including CNN airport TV, JetBlue and United seatback TV pre-roll. Considering the target's high engagement and use of social media, Facebook & Instagram are major outlets, with opportunities to customize our modular structure to suit individual hotel announcements, new menu items, or in response to cultural news. The campaign is launching in the US but will also be used worldwide in Caribbean/Latin America markets and adapted for Europe.