BETHESDA, MD—Every day there are associates going above and beyond for guests. Sadly, many of these stories are often left untold—swept under the area rug in a guestroom or placed into the front desk safe. Going another direction, Sheraton’s latest marketing campaign celebrates its 80th anniversary by sharing these unspoken tales.
“As Sheraton came into the Marriott International portfolio, we looked at the elements of the brand that most defined it,” said Brian McGuinness, SVP and global brand leader of Sheraton Hotels. “There were three that stood out—its pioneering nature, the passion of our associates to serve guests and, most importantly, our commitment to our customers and owners after 80 years. All these combined presented a common theme—ambition and going beyond for guests. The ‘Go Beyond’ platform serves well for our 80th anniversary as a great internal and external mantra.”
The multifaceted campaign’s goal is designed to celebrate the brand’s last 80 years and to promote its future. Looking ahead, Sheraton believed it needed to shift perception. “The campaign appeals not only to our current guests but also to the millennial target,” McGuinness pointed out. “We did extensive research and focus groups before launching the campaign, and the messaging really resonated with our target. Sheraton’s previous campaign around effortless travel was very broad and research showed that ‘Going Beyond’ is more focused and something that we can be accountable for.”
Brands should “go beyond” through “meaningful acts of service, purposeful design and innovative programming,” he said. As for Sheraton’s approach to this line of thought, “We do not merely go just beyond that distant horizon, but beyond expectation,” he added.
Developed in collaboration with San Francisco-based Venables Bell & Partners, the “Go Beyond” campaign launched at the beginning of April. Having never worked with the advertising firm previously, the hotel company didn’t know what to expect; however, it had high hopes from the onset, especially with Venables Bell & Partners’ reputation.
“It’s important for a brand like Sheraton to partner with an agency that thinks outside of the box, which is where the brand needs to go,” McGuinness said about the brand’s advertising strategy. “As AdWeek’s 2016 Breakthrough Agency of the year, Venables Bell & Partners was the ideal partner to help us create the multi-channel campaign.”
What the new campaign includes is a multi-channel integrated global plan focused primarily on digital. The brand’s approach attempts to strategically pair creative with media channels—instead of using a one-size-fits-all method with advertising material. “YouTube content, for example, is designed specifically for YouTube viewers,” he said. “It’s very targeted for that specific audience. The global plan includes TV, out of home and print, as well as digital with new content rolling out constantly on various channels.”
Inspired by the genuine actions of Sheraton’s employees, the “Go Beyond” campaign showcases—in a fun, over-the-top way—how associates have “gone above and beyond” for guests. “[The associates] are the ones who’ve delivered memorable experiences in the past 80 years and will continue to be the heart and soul of the brand for the next 80,” McGuinness explained.
For example, to roll out the campaign, the brand released a video in which a suited-up Sheraton associate is submerged in water. As the man swims deeper into the abyss, a voiceover begins: “He wasn’t the stuff of legends. There was no magic up his sleeve. He didn’t have wings or a cape. He was but just a man, with the will to go beyond.”
The “Go Beyond” platform starts on the property with associates going through training programs. “We are investing heavily in associates with rallies, and the launch of the campaign is being done in parallel with the training of associates globally,” McGuinness said. “Vetting the campaign with associates (our Go Team) as well as with customers was very important as they are the front lines who bring it all to life in the execution and service on property.”
Additionally, individual hotels will undergo renovations to better fit campaign objectives. As far as what Sheraton will upgrade, the specifics are still unknown. “It’s being worked on right now, and we look forward to sharing more with you soon,” McGuinness said.
As another way to spread the campaign’s message, through a partnership with Major League Baseball (MLB), Sheraton began publishing videos featuring legends sharing stories of how people have gone beyond for them. Players to look forward to include Chicago Cubs left fielder and 2016 World Series champion Kyle Schwarber; 2008 World Series champion and outfielder free agent Shane Victorino; five-time All-Star and Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen; and baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield.
Back in April, Sheraton tied its relationship with MLB to its appreciation of its associates in a video promoting the “Go Beyond” campaign. In the 40-second video, a female Sheraton associate rounds the bases with a baseball glove tucked tightly under her right arm. A voiceover accompanies her: “No bronze will be cast in her likeness, and a stadium will never change their name.” The video plays off of a story where an associate returned a child’s forgotten glove. In addition to its alliance with MLB, Sheraton has a partnership with the NHL.
The future of the “Go Beyond” campaign is already in the works. “We will be revealing a new amenities partner as well as a few other exciting activations,” McGuinness revealed. HB