Hyatt Launches Global Creative Review and Eliminates Chief Marketing Officer Role

AOR MullenLowe splits with hotel chain

The review concerns all 12 Hyatt brands. Getty Images
Headshot of Patrick Coffee

Hyatt and its creative agency of record MullenLowe have parted ways as the hotel chain launches a global review for all 12 of its brands around the world, sources confirmed to Adweek.

This news follows last month’s announcement that Hyatt would eliminate the global chief marketing officer role as part of an effort to “accelerate growth” and better target “the high-end traveler with distinctive experiences.” Maryam Banikarim, who came to the company three years ago after serving as CMO of Gannett, will depart in April.

A MullenLowe spokesperson deferred to the client, and a Hyatt representative declined to comment on the news. Agency search consultancy Select Resources International, which managed the chain’s last review in 2016, has not responded to a request for comment.

Three parties with direct knowledge of the matter, however, confirmed that the chain seeks a single agency to handle creative for each of the aforementioned brands, which include the main corporate brand in addition to Hyatt Place, Hyatt Residences, Hyatt Centric, Hyatt House, Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Ziva, Hyatt Zilara, Andaz and The Unbound Collection by Hyatt.

Another source told Adweek that MullenLowe, which has been the chain’s agency of record since winning a competitive review in early 2016, resigned the account due to creative and financial differences with the client.

Hyatt had previously picked BBDO and PHD as creative and media AOR in a 2008 Omnicom consolidation. While the latter retains that business, Hyatt later split with BBDO and began working with a group of agencies on a per-project basis; Pereira & O’Dell created the “It’s Good to Be Home” campaign in late 2015.

In addition to global CMO, Hyatt’s board also decided to eliminate the position of global head of capital strategy, franchising and select service. Those two will be replaced by a new chief commercial officer who will oversee the company’s commercial services portfolio including all global marketing efforts.

Kantar Media’s latest numbers have Hyatt spending $35.5 million promoting all its brands in 2016 and more than $18 million over the first nine months of 2017. Several parties told Adweek that the company has reduced its overall marketing spend over the past two years, though Hyatt CEO Mark Hoplamazian told investors in late 2017 that competition from upstarts like Airbnb had actually made his business stronger.

MullenLowe’s most significant work was “For A World of Understanding,” a call for cultural unity that debuted during the 2017 Academy Awards.

It’s unclear whether the current review includes social media, corporate public relations and luxury/lifestyle PR, which went to We Are Social, Golin and Cohn & Wolfe, respectively, in 2016. Spokespeople for those three companies have either declined to comment or not responded to related requests, but a party familiar with the business confirmed that We Are Social no longer counts Hyatt as a client.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.