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Hyatt Makes Social Statement in First-Ever Oscars Campaign

Hyatt Hotels Corp. is the latest marketer to promote unity in this charged political environment. During the Oscars on Sunday, the company will unveil “For a World of Understanding,” a new corporate brand campaign with its first-ever commercial during the Academy Awards. Set to a modernized version of the song “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” the 30-second spot showcases travelers around the globe connecting with others. In one instance, a blonde woman on a train appears potentially suspicious of a fellow passenger in a headscarf, before smiling in gratitude as the latter helps pick up her belongings off the floor.

“We see travelers in unfamiliar locations, then we see a human gesture that can make all the difference,” said Maryam Banikarim, chief marketing officer at Hyatt. “Everyone can relate to that notion of being in an unfamiliar space and having someone reach out and having that transform their experience.”

The campaign is designed to highlight Hyatt’s new global platform and brand identity—one built on making connections for travelers via the Dionne Warwick hit adapted by singer Andra Day. This marks Hyatt’s first overarching brand spot for TV in more than a decade; the hotelier has run ads specific to some of its 13 brands in recent years, including a 2015 commercial for Hyatt Regency.

Many brands are braving social statements at a time of political uncertainty and division. Airbnb and Coca Cola have recently pushed messages of inclusion in their marketing as businesses strive to connect with consumers on an emotional level. Expedia recently rolled out a tagline about celebrating differences in a spot featuring a geisha riding a cab in Tokyo.

For its new campaign, Hyatt tapped MullenLowe, which it appointed global creative agency of record last year. The campaign will launch globally later this spring, as the 698-property chain rolls out a new loyalty program.

“We knew there was a great opportunity to not only craft something very honest, authentic and true to the Hyatt brand, but also create something resonant at a time when the world really needs it,” said Tim Vaccarino, exec creative director at MullenLowe. “It’s the small things that can have an amazing impact, things everyone is capable of; a knowing glance, a smile, an outstretched hand. These things transcend race, language and culture.”

Ms. Banikarim declined to say how much Hyatt is spending on the new effort, though she noted it’s a big initiative. In 2015, Hyatt spent $819.5 million on measured media in the U.S., according to Kantar Media. A 30-second ad in this year’s Oscars costs around $2 million. ABC sold out of ad time by mid-February, despite a 7% decline in viewers last year to around 34.4 million. Hyatt will join fellow advertisers McDonald’s, Walmart, Verizon and Samsung in the annual award show.

On Sunday, Hyatt will also run a second-screen viewing experience with Buzzfeed. As part of the new core branding identity, the company is also expanding into experiences by partnering with New York-based Afar on a curated trip to Tokyo for Hyatt members later this year. Hyatt will also work with Afar on a charitable sponsorship of an education program and trip to Costa Rica for select youths in Chicago.

“For us, it’s about putting empathy into action,” said Ms. Banikarim.

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