Choice Hotels Boosts Ad Budget by Double Digits, Launches Brand Refresh

Hotel Company's New Campaign Encourages Face-to-Face Connections

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Choice Hotels International is boosting its ad budget by 13% this year, as it undertakes a brand overhaul.

Choice Hotels is spending an unprecedented amount of advertising this year, said Christine Lynn, VP-advertising and marketing communications. It is unveiling a new logo, as well as a campaign that includes prime time TV, a first for the company, print, digital, radio and social components. The company spent $54 million on measured media last year, according to Kantar Media.

McCann Erickson New York is Choice Hotels' integrated agency of record.

The spot, which uses The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I go?" employs an approach the company calls "positive guilt." An example is someone debating if they should travel for an event -- or simply use an app or phone to connect. Robert McDowell, senior VP-marketing and distribution for Choice Hotels, said the goal is to erase that tension and encourage people to make the trip.

"People are using Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat," Mr. McDowell said. "We're trying to say, that's great, but nothing replaces that face-to-face connection."

Credit: Choice Hotels' new logo

Plans for the brand overhaul began in late 2013. Notable among the updates is the new Choice Hotels logo, which moves away from its previous wordmark style. The new logo was chosen because it will translate better in digital platforms and remain readable and recognizable -- no matter how small the screen.

Mr. McDowell said the campaign's demographic aim is still the "99% of America" who are customers, but that part of the rebranding is expanding the consumer base to millennial travelers, whom he said "love to be on their devices and connect but also love to connect with people."

Choice Hotels conducted researched and tested the rebrand for 10 months, talking to current guests, competing hotel guests, millennials, baby boomers and other groups.