These Luxury Hotel Ads Use Instagram Shots Instead of Professional Photos

Unusual indeed for the category

Catch New York combed through social media for guest photos taken at Loews Hotels and Resorts and integrated the candid, unsolicited images into the chain's new "Travel for Real" ad campaign.

Mostly quiet, mildly quirky moments abound. They include shots of a tattooed dude playing banjo in his suite (with the headline, "Everyone needs to find their rhythm") and a kid with cucumbers on his eyes kicking back in a swimming pool ("Everyone needs to soak it all in"). The work is breaking now in magazines like Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler and Wired, as well as in airport displays and as online banners.

Building on 2013's "The Room You Need" campaign, this new work puts guest visits in an even "more emotional and personal" context, says client CMO Bruce Himelstein. #TravelForReal is the hashtag. (All subjects and image posters were duly compensated for the use of the photographs.)

"These are real-life images of actual guest experiences, licensed by Loews," agency chief creative officer Doug Spitzer tells AdFreak. "The vast majority were taken by guests themselves, and while there are a handful of images capturing events such as weddings that may have been taken by professionals and subsequently posted on social media, none were commissioned by Catch nor by Loews. We loved the opportunity to break this boundary and sideline the pros that we are usually so excited to work with."

He adds, "We started our search on Instagram using Loews Hotels hashtags and location tags, but our search grew much wider than that, spanning all of social media. To this date, we have reviewed more than 35,000 images, where we have found just about everything you can possibly imagine."

Ultimately, he says, "anyone considering staying at Loews can be sure that what they are seeing is real, not the creation of a talented pro. There are no tricks, wide angle, Photoshopped shots—like people rightfully complain about on social media. 'Travel For Real' is the real deal, through the eyes, and lenses, of our guests who loved the time they had at Loews."

Fair enough. It's certainly a different approach for the hotel category, where the imagery is usually so manicured. I do wonder if the premise isn't somehow neutered by the fact that most people flipping through magazines might assume these are professional shots—if they give the matter any thought at all.

"That did occur to us," Spitzer says, "and that's why we ended up giving every source credit, so you could actually look at their other photos and see their lives outside of their Loews travel."

The imagery is appealingly on brand, evocatively portraying the luxury chain as an oasis of relaxation and rejuvenation in a stressful world. Though if you wind up in the room next to Banjo Boy, you won't get much peace. Dude looks like he could play all night.

CREDITS
Client: Loews Hotels & Resorts
Agency: Catch, New York
Campaign: "#TravelForReal"

Agency Team
Partner, Chief Creative Officer: Douglas Spitzer
Creative Director, Art Director: Rich Corrigan
Copywriters: Will Woods, Rich Corrigan, Douglas Spitzer
Designer: Maggie Mai
Producer: Kim Schulster
Production Artist: Elvin Garcia
Managing Director: Jason Dorin
Account Director: Isabelle Aylwin
Media Director: Stephen Wraspir

Client Team
Chief Marketing Officer: Bruce Himelstein
Senior Vice President, Marketing: Jim Cone
Vice President, Public Relations: Sarah Murov
Senior Director, Marketing Communications: Piper Stevens
Director, Brand Marketing: Lacey Tisch
Director, Internet Marketing: Jacob Messina