Marketing Campaign Case Studies

Thursday, December 30, 2010


According to Advertising Age International, ‘‘It Happens at the Hilton’’ strove to appeal to people between the ages of 35 and 50 who were ‘‘active achievers among business and leisure groups.’’ It would certainly be a challenge to attract an audience this broad within the confines of a single campaign. To do so, HHC opted to use a diverse array of photographs in the ‘‘It Happens at the Hilton’’ ads in the hope that this multifaceted approach would connect with consumers on various levels. For example, HHC chose to use images of celebrities from different generations at Hilton hotels both to grab people’s attention with the famous faces and to reinforce the notion that Hilton had a long and storied history. The use of political icons such as Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill was intended to lend the campaign a particular gravitas, which was calculated to appeal to the elite business travelers Hilton wanted to reach. At the same time, the images of iconoclast John Lennon and supermodel Naomi Campbell ensured that the campaign would appear neither stuffy nor dated. In fact, the incorporation of celebrities such as these into the branding campaign let Hilton speak to a more statusconscious and upscale group of travelers. ‘‘The implied message to Hilton customers is, ‘If it happens for these people at Hilton, it can happen for me too,’ ’’ Dirks explained. In a period when affluent business and recreational travelers had a slew of hotel options, ‘‘It Happens at the Hilton’’ provided the hotel chain a certain cachet that played well to its more status-oriented guests. But Hilton was careful not to pursue this more upscale and business-oriented identity at the expense of other travelers. ‘‘We wanted consumers to know the hotel is accessible, not just for the rich and famous,’’ Ken Sakoda, a Bozell vice president, said in the October 5, 1998, issue of Advertising Age. The company therefore presented a variety of scenes of everyday people enjoying the Hilton’s amenities in order to balance the celebrity shots. Bozell also injected humor into these projects, and stressed the pleasure and convenience Hilton could bring to any vacation. In an ad for Hilton’s line of resorts, a couple is shown sprawled in lounge chairs on the beach. ‘‘Tailored vacations call for a fitting,’’ the tag line declared. By presenting reallife scenarios—such as weddings or stressed-out families in dire need of respite—Hilton made it possible for a whole other sector of consumers to relate to the scenes.