What the world needs now, Hal David and Burt Bacharach wrote so many years ago, is love (sweet love). Decades later, along comes a campaign for a lodging chain that suggests another pressing need.
The campaign, now under way, promotes the Morgans Hotel Group as the company marks its 25th anniversary. The campaign, with a budget estimated at $1 million, carries the theme “The world needs interesting.” Interesting? What an interesting word. There are some who believe the last year or so has been, well, too interesting, for all the wrong reasons.
But in this instance, Morgans, which is credited with the invention of the boutique hotel in 1984, seeks to convey a different message. At a time, the campaign asserts, when the natural instinct is to hunker down and pull in one’s horns — if not one’s head — there is much more to be gained by getting out there and welcoming what the world has to offer.
“The world needs bigger ideas,” one print and outdoor ad declares. “The world needs to see it for themselves,” another proclaims.
“The world needs to make new friends,” a third such ad says. “The world needs to discuss it over drinks,” a fourth advises.
Some ads invite consumers to offer their own suggestions by running the headline “The world needs,” followed by a blank space.
The hotels being advertised, in addition to the namesake Morgans, include the Clift, the Delano, the Hudson, the three Mondrian hotels, the Royalton and the Sanderson.
The campaign is being created by Ernest Industries in New York, a boutique agency — appropriate for a chain of boutique hotels, yes? — led by the longtime creative executive Ernest Lupinacci.
The campaign includes print and online advertising; posters and signs, many of them displayed on city streets in so-called wild postings; and materials in the hotels like cocktail napkins, pencils and the sleeves of key cards.
There is also mobile marketing, using text messages and what is known as a QR code; content on the Morgans Web site (morganshotelgroup.com) like a video clip; and promotions that include 25 percent off a room, and two free cocktails, through Dec. 30.
The campaign is indicative of efforts by advertisers in problematic markets like automobiles, financial services, luxury goods and travel to continue to communicate with potential customers despite the dislocations and disruptions caused by the recession. As an upscale lodging chain, Morgans is exposed in two hard-hit categories.
“Twenty-five years ago, this hotel company was birthed in a recession,” says Scott Williams, chief marketing officer at Morgans in New York, referring to the opening of the initial hotel, Morgans, by Ian Schrager.
“The same thing is going on now,” he adds. “People will always gravitate to what’s interesting.” A difference between then and now, Mr. Williams acknowledges, is that in the ’80s “we were first” to provide travelers with a luxury hotel experience that was hip rather than proper “and now there are dozens of imitators.”
“We can’t be first again,” he adds, “but we can strive to be leaders.”
Morgans is seeking to lead by seeking out leaders, the consumers whom Mr. Williams describes as “the creative class, the movers and influencers who like things that are interesting.”
“Attitudinally, they’re the same as when we opened,” he adds. “This ‘rock star’ comes out in them when they cross the door jamb.”
To maintain that, Mr. Williams says, Morgans must keep generating that ineffable quality known as the buzz factor.
“As long as people continue to talk about us, as long as we keep it unpredictable and fashionable and exciting,” he adds, “there’ll be a curiosity about” the company’s properties, which are to expand by one, to 14, with the opening of the Ames in Boston, scheduled for Nov. 19.
“We like to think the soul of the brand is in what the next big thing is,” Mr. Williams says, and “staying out in front.”
Reflecting that, an estimated 65 percent of the campaign will appear online, he adds, on Web sites like advocate.com, boston.com, concierge.com, gayot.com, justluxe.com, outtraveler.com and Sherman’s Travel (shermanstravel.com).
The banner ads for those sites take a similar tack to the print and outdoor ads. Among the headlines are these: “The world needs more stimulating stimulation,” “The world needs the next 25,” “The world needs outrageously brilliant solutions,” “The world needs to get away from it all” and “The world needs to see and be seen.”
25th Anniversary campaign of Morgans Hotel Group. The theme of “The world needs interesting.” seems very appropriate for these times in many respects.