Garfield's Ad Review: Marriott sports-celeb spots foul out on every possible level

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The Ad Review staff's favorite hotel - and we have been in hundreds of hotels of all kinds all over the world, including the ritziest and priciest and snobbiest - is the Marriott in Brooklyn Heights. We love it there, because the staff is phenomenally attentive without being the slightest bit snooty. As perhaps you have divined over the years, we are salt-of-the-earth folk who despise snoot.

The hotel we stay in the most often is the East Side Marriott in midtown Manhattan, which is pleasant and commodious, as well. So we don't have any anti-Marriott agenda or anything. Therefore please take us at our word when we tell you the new umbrella Marriott branding campaign from McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, is a complete embarrassment.

For instance, one of four spots opens on a woman in her bedroom packing for a trip. When a shrill whistle sound startles her, she spins around to discover former coach Mike Ditka, looking puffy and gross, sitting on her bed.

Ditka: "Looks like you're going out of town for a while."

Woman: "Yeah, two-week training seminar in Arizona."

Ditka: "Ah, training camp! A chance to bond with your teammates. To learn the newest tricks of the trade, get ready for another winning year. Jeez, I really miss it."

Voice-over: "Going away for a while? Residence Inn has everything you need to make life on the road seem like home." Then, the offer: two free nights after three paid stays. Then, in the hilarious conclusion, Ditka offers the lady his favorite teddy bear.

The slogan: "Your Marriott Awaits."

Get it? It's a goof on "Your chariot awaits," which would be a reasonable play on words if only Marriott were a means of transportation, which it isn't, or if a chariot were lodging, which also isn't the case. So why bother? They could just as easily have forced any rhyme. Lariat. Harriet. Hey, it's the Lenten about Judas Iscariot? ("Last-minute supper? Dial room service. We will be-tray you. Prudence is Marriott.") Whatever. Just thinking out loud here.

Apart from being uninspired, the tagline is uninspiring, unmotivating and undifferentiating. It just so happens that your Hyatt awaits, too. Also your Ramada, your Radisson, and your date with the Grim Reaper - whereupon you and your Marriott Reward points will simultaneously expire. So, on top of everything else, the slogan is a little ominous.

Still, McCann believes business travelers won't be able to resist the sports analogies, presented with equal wit in spots for Courtyard by Marriott, Fairfield Inns and Marriott itself. One features Tampa Bay Buccaneers Coach Jon Gruden, another University of South Carolina Coach Lou Holtz and the third Los Angeles Lakers Coach Phil Jackson (as a cab driver. It's like, huh?). Each strains for some dubious connection between big-time sports and business travel while managing to illuminate exactly zero distinguishing characteristics of the various Marriott chains.

All in all, it's a ridiculous use of sports celebrities spouting incomprehensible copy in obnoxious fashion. To watch these spots feels like being buttonholed at close-quarters by a bore with bad breath. But if the idea was to efficiently advertise a host of sub brands in one all-embracing campaign, mission accomplished.

Every single one of them seems less attractive now than it did before.

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