Hyatt Celebrates Understanding 50 Years After It Opened Its Doors to Civil Rights Leaders

MullenLowe helped bring latest campaign to life

Spoken word poet Tarriona "Tank" Ball delivers a powerful message in Hyatt's new ad. Hyatt
Headshot of Katie Richards

Fifty years ago today, the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta opened its doors to a group of civil rights leaders in need of a place to congregate for the 11th annual Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Many other establishments had turned them away, but not the Hyatt.

Today, the brand launched a new film as part of its World of Hyatt platform that launched earlier this year alongside the equally inclusive “For a World of Understanding” Oscars ad. Hyatt teamed up with agency MullenLowe on both campaigns after selecting the agency to head up global creative work in March 2016.

“We continue to be inspired by the events that happened at Hyatt Regency Atlanta 50 years ago and are very proud to create a film that celebrates when groups of people come together to foster understanding,” Maryam Banikarim, global CMO of Hyatt, said.

The new spot, “Come Together,” has a similar tone as the brand’s past work, leaning on its rich history of inclusivity and celebrating having opened its doors to all since 1967. It features spoken word artist Tarriona “Tank” Ball with direction from Simon Benjamin.

“When people come together and allow their commonalities to supersede their differences, they cloak themselves in a suit of armor galvanized by open-mindedness and wield a sword of understanding cured in the flames of love,” Ball says in the spot, “a blade so sharp that it renders the threat of indifference and stereotypes and prejudice null and void and the barriers of language, race, religion, sex and sexual preference invalid.”

Ball’s words are perhaps the most powerful part of the campaign and deliver exactly what Hyatt and MullenLowe were aiming for. According to both agency and client, the goal was to find someone who could speak powerfully and deliver powerful thoughts and ideas to an audience to pay homage to the great oratory skills of Martin Luther King Jr.

“Words do matter so much, and obviously Martin Luther King is so known for his words,” Dave Weist, ecd at MullenLowe, said. “To modernize that idea and bring it to a new audience was pretty interesting.”

According to Banikarim, the Hyatt team had a long, drawn-out conversation about whether or not it would run the spot following the violence in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend. The brand didn’t want to seem like it was exploiting a violent and tragic event to promote itself. However, Hyatt felt obligated to share the work and its message at a time when the brand feels like the world needs it the most.

Hyatt is launching the campaign in partnership with The Atlantic. Starting today, you can find the film on The Atlantic’s website along with an exclusive interview with Ball and civil rights leader Xernona Clayton.

@ktjrichards Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.