Y&R Returns Hilton to TV

LOS ANGELES A massive “re-ignition” campaign on behalf of Hilton Hotels by WPP Group’s Y&R aims to convey the chain’s enhanced physical and emotional amenities, a brand representative said. Work features the new tagline, “Travel should take you places.”

Launching Sunday, the nationwide effort includes Hilton’s first foray into television advertising in a decade, according to Jeff Diskin, senior vice president, brand performance for the Los Angeles-based hotelier.

In five animated spots, Etch-a-Sketch-inspired figures dance, build a sandcastle or swing on a hammock—among other activities—between points labeled “A” and “B” on a black line. As the 30-second commercials progress, the drawings morph into the words “Travel is more than just A to B.”

Text then notes what travel should be, according to Hilton. In the dancing spot, for example, a follow-up sentence reads, “Travel should be exhilarating.” Each spot concludes with the new tag and existing Hilton logo.

The use of music is integral to the broadcast effort, Diskin said. The spots feature “optimistic” songs by artists including Jason Mraz, James Blunt and Persephone’s Bees. People can visit a Web microsite, www.hiltonjourneys.com, for facts about the musicians, interviews and special Hilton extras.

“Music can be so powerful,” Diskin explained. “We wanted music that felt instantly hummable, made an instant connection.”

Other components—some crafted by Y&R in partnership with WPP sibling Wunderman—include print, online, outdoor and collateral executions, each incorporating a similar concept and “utterly simple, utterly charming” line art, said Julian Sandy, svp, brand team leader at Y&R, Irvine, Calif.

“It’s become harder and harder to differentiate between brands,” said Sandy, who worked closely with Chicago-based Y&R colleagues led by executive creative director Mark Figliulo.

Hilton offers soft beds with down duvets and pillows, Crabtree & Evelyn bath products, 24-hour business centers and other high-end amenities—all part of the chain’s recently completed $1 billion renovation program, Sandy said.

But the campaign is meant to “communicate both rational things and connect with consumers on an emotional level,” he said. “Stimulation, experience, learning . . . That’s the belief Conrad Hilton had: ‘Transformation through travel is a good thing for humankind. ‘ “

This campaign marks Y&R’s first work for Hilton since winning its estimated $50 million brand account in July. Omnicom Group’s OMD, Marina del Rey, Calif., handles media duties.

Hilton Hotels spent $30 million on U.S. brand advertising in 2004 and $13 million from January to October last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. A current campaign budget was not available.