Hilton Jumps In With $15 Mil. Olympics Push

CHICAGO Every major hotel company has a portfolio of brands targeting travelers or a specific demographic, but only Hilton is putting down big money on an integrated umbrella campaign — including TV and Olympic sponsorship — for its nine brands.

The $15 million campaign, created by DraftFCB, San Francisco, will include a new spot airing during the Beijing Olympic Games. The spot shows scenes of camaraderie among co-workers, teammates, war veterans and other relationships to suggest that the term “family” transcends biological relationships and that Hilton welcomes different types of families as its guests. The spot will air on NBC, MSNBC and CNBC, as well as appear in online video recaps of the games on NBCOlympics.com. Print in national newspapers also will support.

“If Hilton provides a certain level of prestige, assurance or certainty to a brand that might be younger in people’s awareness like Hampton or Embassy Suites, they can borrow some of that equity and at the same time contribute usefulness, exuberance and warmth to the Hilton brand,” said Jeffrey Diskin, svp, brand management. “We’ve seen that time and time again, the more people are aware of the Hilton family of hotels, the greater they consider each of the individual members.”

Diskin also noted that consumers see Hilton’s tie-in with the Olympics as support for the community and athletes. “Part of this campaign is for the world to know that we are a sponsor. People presume that an Olympic sponsor is a category leader, but moreover it gets to something that is harder to delineate, which is that people hold an affection for companies that show they’re embracing something more than the pursuit of the almighty dollar,” he said.

Hilton activated its sponsorship by remodeling rooms and installing Hilton Serenity Beds at the U.S. Olympic team’s training facility in Colorado Springs, Colo. Hilton also developed a curriculum for athletes to help them understand the Chinese language and avoid cultural faux pas.

The execution is part of the “Connections” initiative that heralds Hilton’s sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic team. Other TV spots debuted during the Olympic pre-trials televised by NBC on June 21. “Connections” is the latest iteration of Hilton’s “Be hospitable” effort that  launched in February 2006. The goal of the effort was to assure consumers of the quality of Hilton’s eight sister brands, which include Hilton Garden Inn, Doubletree and Homewood Suites.