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.


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

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.