W Hotels Worldwide and the Human Rights Campaign are using music to ignite social change. The collaboration, called #TurnItUpForChange, was forged last October, and supports marriage equality in all 50 states by spreading the word through monthly music events.
"Social change is driven by public opinion, and brands have a huge role in influencing public opinion," said Anthony Ingham, global brand leader for W Hotels Worldwide.
The release of Jennifer Hudson's "I Still Love You" music video is one way #TurnItUpForChange is trying to mold public opinion. The video depicts a father debating whether to attend his son's wedding, interspersed with shots of Ms. Hudson singing. The video was previewed at the W Union Square during an event last week. It is airing nationally on MTV and VH1.
"Through the lens of this campaign, I think what the W Hotel brings to bear, and certainly with Jennifer Hudson, is reaching a different audience for us," said Anastasia Khoo, director-marketing for Human Rights Campaign. "That's always a really key piece. We're always open to experimenting and trying new things to help amplify our messages."
The video was followed by a panel discussion led by Andy Cohen, which included Mr. Ingham; directors Tabitha Denholm and Molly Schiot; Fred Sainz, VP of communications and marketing for the Human Rights Campaign; and Claudia Charriez, an LGBT model and activist.
When asked about the recent reveal of Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair, some panelists were hesitant to comment. Ms. Charriez said she is excited about the increasing trans-awareness but also frustrated that LGBT issues are just now attracting attention.
Ms. Khoo said the Human Rights Campaign would love to work with Ms. Jenner. "This week has been just extraordinary from the cover and the Diane Sawyer interview," said Ms. Khoo. "The brave act of coming out and saying who that is, is helping change hearts and minds and helping educate."
Ad Age reported last week, that Ms. Jenner has not spoken with any brands about potential sponsorships.
W Hotels is using social media to raise money for the Human Rights Campaign by donating $1 for every tweet and retweet of the video or #TurnItUpForChange until July 3.The initiative has raised more than $100,000 since its launch in October.
"There's no doubt that the support we've received from American business has been absolutely transformative over the past few decades," Mr. Sainz said at Thursday's event. "It's not just the moral thing to do, but it's also makes good business sense."
Since its launch in 1998, W Hotels has garnered a strong following from the LGBT community, a population who spent $70 billion on travel and tourism last year, accounting for roughly 5% of the entire market, according to Community Marketing and Insights LGBT Tourism Survey.