Production Company
W Hotels

When W Hotels launched it W Records label, it turned to Marriott Content Studio (the in-house production branch of Marriott, W’s parent brand) to create an intimate portrait of artist Amber Mark. The Travel Video Alliance spoke with Marriott International’s Executive Creative Director Marc Battaglia about the project, including how the team collaborates with outside partners, and how the campaign resonated with audiences. 

How did the collaboration with VICE begin?

Marc Battaglia: Our partner, W Hotels, was launching a record label and, as a well-established brand in the music space, this was a natural evolution for them. As the companies’ storytellers, the Marriott Content Studio saw a great opportunity to develop a documentary that focused on Amber Mark, the first artist signed to the label. The story would be an intimate look at her and her process while naturally integrating the W music story. As we began to develop the idea we gravitated towards VICE as a strong partner and collaborator, and began to work together on both the creative and distribution strategy. We also knew we wanted to connect with a specific audience, in this case a music-driven audience that aligned really well. Part documentary, part music video, Let’s Talk About You, Amber Mark explores the emotional journey and artistic process of Amber Mark, a W Records artist on the rise. Her unexpected life story is highlighted through an editorial and video piece and supported by social assets across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.  

Was the collaboration’s concept in place first, and VICE was the right partner? Or did the concept come from the collaboration?

MB: As a studio we always develop the nugget of the idea first in-house and then set out to find the right partner to build and develop it with. We approached VICE with the documentary idea and then began to craft it together. From there, our director Stella Scott was brought on board and she was a perfect fit for both Amber as well as the tone, story, and look we were going for.

How does Marriott decide on the directors/filmmakers it wants to work with? What are you looking for in a collaborator?

MB: In this specific case, we wanted a vision that would break through the clutter and at the same time could build a bond with the artist to achieve an intimate feel to the story. Stella’s work hit the vibe perfectly and her natural interview skills allowed her to dig in with Amber and give a real inside look to the artist.

How do you balance a filmmaker’s sensibility with the Marriott brand’s sensibility?

MB: We work with directors whom we have 100% confidence in and frankly want their thumbprint in the film. We also work closely to make sure everyone has a clear understanding of the brand, but it’s important for all parties to remember that branded entertainment is just that: entertainment. It needs to entertain and emotionally connect with the viewer—if the brand pillars come through loud and clear, but the film has no soul or doesn’t connect to the viewers then it doesn’t matter. I’ve always said that a great brand storyteller has the hardest job in the world, it’s not enough to tell just a great story–it also has to make the viewer feel something for the brand.

How do you measure KPI on this campaign? Do you have standard KPIs across all campaigns?

MB: Each project typically comes with their own goals and objectives; in this case we wanted to generate awareness of W Hotel’s W Records as well as assure W Hotels was getting credit. The content delivered over 27MM impressions and nearly 9MM+ in total reach to a very relevant music audience; in addition a 207% lift in brand affinity. In the end, the results told us that the story resonated really well with the audience that we wanted to hit. It was a great example of branded entertainment driving results without sacrificing great storytelling.

widget image
widget image
widget image