Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Ownership of the Hilton Hotel brand had been split apart in 1964. As a result, the hotel chain was controlled by two distinct groups—Hilton Hotel Corporation (HHC), which held the rights to the brand in the United States, and Hilton International Company (HIC, a division of the Ladbroke Group PLC), which owned the brand abroad. Since their breakup, HHC and HIC had maintained separate marketing and public relations efforts. In 1997, however, facing intense competition in both domestic and international markets, the two companies formed the Hilton Alliance, which was committed to creating a single global image for the hotel chain. After changing the Hilton logo, the companies selected advertising agency Bozell Worldwide to produce a branding campaign that would differentiate Hilton from its competitors. The company wanted a unique message to position itself advantageously among the other massive global hotel chains competing for the patronage of business and leisure consumers. The result was the ‘‘It Happens at the Hilton’’ campaign, which debuted on October 5, 1998, and used photographs of celebrities and everyday travelers to ‘‘convey the strength of the Hilton name and its association with quality, achievement, innovation, and timeless style,’’ said Robert Dirks, the senior vice president of marketing for HHC.
Hilton allocated a budget of approximately $10 million for the first three months of the campaign, which was comprised mainly of print ads. ‘‘It Happens at the Hilton’’ sought to epitomize the Hilton experience for its audience. Unlike traditional advertising for major hotel chains, which typically focused on the nuts and bolts of the visiting experience—mainly rooms or services—
Hilton’s campaign used striking photos of past and present celebrities at various Hilton hotels. One spot featured ex-Beatle John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono during their ‘‘Bed-in for Peace’’ at the Amsterdam Hilton. Political figures Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela, as well as celebrities Larry King and Naomi Campbell, also appeared in ads bearing the ‘‘It Happens at the Hilton’’ tag line. To ensure that consumers were not alienated by a celebrity-laden campaign, however, Hilton also ran a substantial number of ads that portrayed average Hilton guests, ranging from CEOs and other business people to families on vacation. One print piece, for instance, depicted a family at a Hilton pool. ‘‘Relaxation now available in a convenient family size,’’ the copy chirped. The company’s goal was straightforward. ‘‘We want to show that so many things happen at the Hilton, from weddings to romance, and that Hilton is part of the community,’’ Dirks told Advertising Age International. Hilton declared itself pleased with the campaign’s result.
‘‘You + HP’’ was widely acknowledged as a key contributor to the ongoing transformation of the company’s image from, as Advertising Age put it, ‘‘well-regarded though stodgy into a brand akin to sexier rivals such as Sony Corp.’’ For the print insert that launched the campaign, which ‘‘cut through in a medium that HP’s rivals have dominated for decades,’’ Goodby was awarded Adweek ’s Media Plan of the Year for Best Use of Magazines. Goodby’s market research indicated that the inserts raised consumers’ likelihood to buy HP digitalimaging products by 8 percent. The 2004 television spots generated, according to Goodby and HP, more consumer feedback than either had ever gotten from an ad, and Adweek named ‘‘You + HP’’ its Campaign of the Year for 2004. TV Guide ’s praise went beyond the realm of advertising, claiming that the spot ‘‘Picture Book’’ was the best 60 seconds of television then on the air. In 2004 HP extended the ‘‘You + HP’’ concept to digital music, partnering with Apple to sell HP-branded iPods and offering iTunes software on its PCs. The iPod, an MP3 player that allowed consumers to mix and match music to suit their personalities, offered HP a further vehicle for connecting the personal-expression ethos to its brand image. A business-to-business campaign called ‘‘Change + HP’’ was likewise launched in 2004, using the company’s new cutting-edge image to appeal to information-technology decision makers in the rapidly evolving tech marketplace. ‘‘You + HP,’’ along with the umbrella ‘‘+ HP’’ idea and HP’s image, continued to evolve through 2005. Whether HP’s change in direction was a welcome one remained an open question, however, at least to the company’s board of directors. Fiorina was ousted as chief executive officer in February 2005.
‘‘You + HP’’ was launched with a 20-page print insert in the October 2, 2003, edition of USA Today. The idea of spending $10 million on such an insert, designed to run in about a dozen publications, went against the grain of traditional print advertising for photography brands, which tended to focus on maximum coverage and frequency. Because the campaign was ‘‘more lifestyleoriented than anything else,’’ as Berg told Adweek, the company ‘‘had to find a way to stand out in unique environments’’ rather than take a blanket approach to print placement. Goodby’s creative team decided that the magazines in which the insert would appear after its launch should be ones whose editorial focus celebrated the power of photography; the team thus chose such titles as Vogue, the New Yorker, People, Entertainment Weekly, InStyle, ESPN: The Magazine, GQ, Travel + Leisure, and Conde´ Nast Traveler. The inserts put the consumer at the center of HP’s message, featuring the word ‘‘You’’ in a prominent position on nearly every page, employing vibrant photo collages and statements such as ‘‘You are a point-and-shoot revolutionary with an itchy shutter finger’’ and ‘‘You are the Van Gogh of pic files.’’ The ads featured the full range of HP digital-imaging products, pointing out the brand’s coverage of the entire picture-making process but forgoing the usual listings of technical specifications.
The campaign’s initial television spots, directed by Vogel and shot in Barcelona, further underscored the revolutionary nature of digital-photography technology. In both ‘‘You’’ and ‘‘Statue,’’ people in social settings and on city streets were frozen in still frames suggesting photographs, while the scenes’ action moved on briskly and a continuous stream of individual moments were framed before dissolving back into motion. The fluidity of the movement from human interaction to still frame, along with the profusion of photographic possibilities suggested, communicated the limitless options available to the digital-camera owner while dramatizing the integration of artistic expression and ordinary life. The arresting visual effects worked with the Cure’s moody 1989 hit song ‘‘Pictures of You’’ to create, as Adweek put it, ‘‘an emotional paean to digital photography.’’ In 2004 Goodby’s creative team planned a second series of television spots to be paired with the upbeat Kinks song ‘‘Picture Book.’’ This time the challenge was to go beyond illustrating picture-taking possibilities and find a visual method for dramatizing the ease of printing photos. In a test spot filmed as his bid to direct the new series, Vogel shot himself at his desk putting empty white frames around his head while coolly singing along to the Kinks song playing in the background. Vogel then tweaked the footage until it appeared that he was effortlessly creating a series of casual self-portraits from thin air. Not only did this test ad get him the job, but it was reshot with little alteration as the 30-second spot ‘‘Franc¸ois.’’ In the spot ‘‘Picture Book’’ the principle of picking photographs out of thin air was applied to crowds of people. At the start of the commercial, two rows of people held frames to their faces, after which the frames became pictures, and then the people traded these self-portraits with one another. In ‘‘Relay’’ the photographic frame was passed like a baton between groups and individuals. Photos transformed into dynamic real-life scenes and vice versa as the frame made its way through a hypnotic flux of distinctive people and moments.