Hyatt's "Coming Together" Charlottesville Political Advertisement


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A growing trend for commercial advertising is for brand marketers to use political charged issues to create branding campaigns, much like this last year with Johnnie Walker and Tecate's campaigns when they supported Hispanics amid the wall conversations.  In the wake of the racially charged tragedy following the August events of Charlottesville, one brand marketer has sought to voice a message of unity in hours filled with voices filled with hate and animosity. 

Hyatt has stepped outside of their box to put their brand beliefs front and center.  But how did one commercial acheive so much? In this blog, Hollywood Branded explores the impact of politically charged advertisements in a hyper-aware society, and offers ideas on how best to adapt your brand to the changing times.

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A Hotel United 50 Years And Counting

Hyatt Hotels recently aired the next installment of its "World of Understanding" advertising campaign platform in the form of a video celebrating 50 years of inclusivity, which dates back to the chain's Hyatt Regency Atlanta hotel when they opened their doors to civil rights leaders during the 1967 protests.

The commercial includes the spoken words of artist Tarriona "Tank" Ball on an idea that was conceived long before recent events.  The weight of Ball's words still hold true to today - "When people come together and allow their commonalities to supersede their differences, they cloak themselves in a suit of armor, galvanized by open-mindedness," she says.

Below is Hyatt's commercial in full: 


In an interview with on the same topic, chief marketing officer at Hyatt, Maryam Bankikarim said, "The message of understanding transcends politics," noting that after Charlottesville, the brand deliberated over airing the already-planned piece. "The hotel showed bravery 50 years ago when others didn't, on the eve of the anniversary, shouldn't we as an organization demonstrate the same bravery?" she further questioned. 

In August 1967, the newly debuted Hyatt Regency Atlanta hosted the 11th Annual Southern Christian Leadership Conference for Martin Luther King Jr., and other activists at a time when few hotels were inviting to people of color, and those who stood in alliance with civil rights champions. The chain, which spent the last year looking for such historical events to support its "Understanding" platform, worked with MullenLowe. There are roughly 175 Regency hotels under the Hyatt umbrella.

A Sign Of The Changing Times

The increase in politically charged advertisements is not all that surprising, especially given the current climate of the country - and in fact, the world. And it’s likely something consumers can expect to see more of from brands, companies, and marketers alike whenever controversy arises.

Briefly recalling Superbowl LI, all eyes were on the influx of politically swayed advertisements that premiered at the height of viewership during the legendary sporting event. Many of these advertisements touched on themes of inclusivity, of togetherness that unites the nation, as well as gender equality, and acceptance (and tribulations) of immigrants, all in their own way touching on current conversations being debated throughout the world.  

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And what could almost be called a new ‘trend’ for marketers, is only going to continue so says Kevin Keller, a professor of marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, who said, "We're going to see more of that just trying to tap into the social, maybe political, climate of the day as brands try to stay relevant and be part of the conversation."

But Keller cautioned that while Hyatt has legitimate historical ties and values, marketers that do not may come across as insincere (or worse) out of touch in their efforts -- like Pepsi's disastrous Kendall Jenner spot from earlier this year, the very same controversial topic we discussed in our blog:  Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad politically charged advertisment backlash. 

Political Awareness: Friend Or Foe To Brands?

The question still remains: should marketers and brands join in, or stray away from politically charged advertisements?

Really, it comes down to knowing and understanding the current political and social climate of the modern age. In this time the power of words and advocacy go hand in hand with brands in terms of reaching their consumer demographics. With the sudden growth in self-identifying consumers as activists, brands are slowly evolving to keep up with the younger interests, social movements, and show their support.  And it's a world where brands are going to have to learn to live in, as both Millennials and Generations Y and Z embrace brands who support causes, which we discuss in this blog:  Cause related marketing campaigns getting the celebrity treatment.   

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The key to reaching the intended demographic, then, is to remain invested and informed about the social movements, as well as developing an awareness to the topics and ventures associated with said movements, protests, etc.  And a relevant voice.

As seen with the recent Pepsi controversy, social media can be both a blessing and a curse to a brand, depending on whether or not the message hits the exact relevance mark with its audience. This is also the key to Hyatt’s recent success in the new venture, as they remain aware of political situations and assure due respect is given with both tact and tastefulness.

Ready To Make A Statement?

For more tips on how to reach your audience check out our blog post on How to advertise to Millennials in a way that engages, and Why social media engagement is important for a brand's social influencer.

Want to know if your missing any tools from your marketing arsenal? Watch this video below to see real world examples from brands across a wide variety of categories, and the results brand marketers see!

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