How Hospitality Brands Balance Global and Local in Their Marketing


How Hospitality Brands Balance Global and Local in Their Marketing

Rebecca Brooks, founder of Alter Agents marketing, who has worked with hotel chains and hospitality brands.

Honey Maid, the venerable brand of graham crackers whose very name evokes sepia- toned memories of the good ole days, launched a cutting-edge advertising campaign last year that is a model for all other brands seeking to be genuinely “genuine.” We’ve all heard that the evolving, self-aware consumer wants brands to be more “real” and “authentic,” but what does that mean?

For some time now those of us in the marketing-advertising-PR industry have known that business as usual doesn’t cut it anymore in building or burnishing brand awareness. Shopping is no longer solely about the best bargain, brand loyalty or a traditional value proposition. The purchasing experience goes beyond offering a different product for every market segment. (That’s so 20th century GM.) Driven by the 66-million strong Millennial generation, consumers now want to see themselves represented in the brand. A powerful brand reinforces the shopper’s own sense of self as well as accurately telegraphs their values to others. And, it needs to speak the truth.

To traditional Madison Avenue style advertising, that might sound like so much kumbaya. But caveat vendit! Ignoring the desires – no, the feelings – of the contemporary consumer is no longer an option, whether you manufacture graham crackers or smart phones. In today’s social media -rich environment, where consumer feedback is instantaneous and activist groups and audience-hungry bloggers are poised to strike, the challenge for brands is to make their ethics known in a way that doesn’t just seem self-serving or “me, too,” but rather, genuinely authentic.

How did Honey Maid manage to strike the right balance between marketing and ethics? It launched an advertising campaign built around diversity. In its TV commercials, there were all kinds of families — a rockers, a single dad, an interracial couple, a military family and one with two dads and their son. The tagline for the campaign made a point of underscoring exactly where Honey Maid was going with this: “No matter how things change, what makes us wholesome never will. Honey Maid. Everyday wholesome snacks for every wholesome family. This is wholesome.”

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