Best supporting role

LONDON - Hilton's Andrew Flack talks about making the most of the hotel chain's film part.

As any Bond fan knows, unsubtle product-placement in movies can seriously spoil the viewing experience. However, the relationship between brands and film-makers is changing. Andrew Flack, vice-president of global brand marketing at Hilton, explains how the hotel chain took a light-touch approach to its role in the Oscar-nominated film Up in the Air.

- How did Hilton's participation in Up in the Air come about?

The book (on which it is based) used fictitious brands, but director Jason Reitman was very keen (to get Hilton involved) - he is a member of our loyalty programme. We also have a connection with Paramount (the studio that produced the film).

- How do you choose projects to get involved in?

The appropriateness of the opportunity is the driver - we turn down more things than we end up doing. We need (projects) that are global and project the glamour of travel.

Contrived placement, which does happen, can look crass. This was an authentic backdrop to the story, not someone driving by a poster with 'Hilton' on it.

- Did any money change hands?

There was no cash payment either way - we provided three hotels for the setting and support for the whole production. We put up the crew, put in 100 props and worked with the director to get authenticity into the plotline.

- So there was a cost...

Our marketing budget is segmented into advertising, website and PR. We also have a budget for partnership marketing, because we see that as part of a way of getting the Hilton name out there. We actively look at ways to invest that money.

- What have you got out of your participation in Up in the Air?

The film has gone global and we've been able to activate that - private screenings in all our key markets with customers and staff. That sort of asset is typically part of the package from movie companies. We also took team members to the Hollywood premiere.

We have 8m active Hilton Honors (loyalty scheme) members, so we had a competition for them to enter to win a trip to the premiere. People also used their points to go to the Grammys.

- Did you get sight of the script in advance?

Yes, and we had control over how our brand was represented in the movie - but not over the story itself.

- What advice would you give marketers keen to get involved in film-making?

You have to respect the creative process. We are not there to cramp film-makers' style, but to help them tell their story. However, we still have our duty to our own brand. If you're the marketer, think of what you have to offer (film-makers) - our website has 8m visitors a month, so we promoted the movie on that. Movie releases depend on word-of-mouth and generating buzz.

And don't underestimate the time investment involved. There is a cost in that it is time-consuming. There's a lot of back-and-forth.

- Investing in movies is a risk for brands that haven't done it before. How does Hilton assess that risk?

The partnership is only of value to us if the movie is successful, but a few things were certain. Jason Reitman is a successful writer and George Clooney, of course, is a very successful actor and producer.

You can make informed decisions, but it's not a total science. Looking at the package of this movie, there was a 75% chance it would get a good airing.

- Did you evaluate the ROI for Hilton after the film was released?

There are some highly measurable bits. The promotion we ran - the chance to go to the premiere - generated bookings. It's not all measured in hotel bookings here and now. It's a fairly broad range of measures.

This interview first appeared on www.filmbrandconnections.com, a site created by Film Tree in partnership with the UK Film Council and produced by Brand Republic and Marketing.

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer