The pact kicks in each year from May through the summer, timed to what Marc Snyder, senior VP-brand management for Embassy Suites, called the family travel season. This year's effort revolves around Nickelodeon's celebration of the 10th anniversary of the popular show "Rugrats."
`WE OWN FAMILY SEGMENT'
"We own the family segment today," Mr. Snyder said. "We program our hotels to be very family-friendly. You don't have to worry about knocking over vases."
James Perry, Nickelodeon's VP-sales and business development, said Embassy Suites was looking for a media vehicle that targeted children but was approved by parents.
Embassy Suites has been playing up its ties to tots because of the influence kids have on family purchasing decisions.
"We found in research that 95% of kids could name at least one hotel chain," Mr. Perry said. "Kids are brand savvy. They are living in a very different world now. They have a bigger role in the family."
Embassy Suites will use "Rugrats" characters in TV spots for the promotion. Mr. Snyder said the ads, like the animated series, will be shot from a "kid's point of view." TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York, handles advertising for the hotel chain.
A FIRST FOR CHAIN
The promotion will include a sweepstakes, as well as goody bags given to kids when their families check into the hotels.
Embassy Suites has never before directly targeted kids, though in the early 1990s, the chain used the animated feline "Garfield" in a campaign that sold the idea of traveling like a "fat cat."
Nickelodeon has been signing deals with non-traditional kids advertisers in part to offset a generally soft ad market for child-oriented advertisers. The Viacom-owned network also has inked pacts with Ford Motor Co., Gateway and Kimberly-Clark Corp.'s Huggies.
John Popkowski, president of U.S advertising for MTV Networks, which oversees Nickelodeon, said that over the past two years, the kids network has lured about 40 non-traditional kids advertisers. More marketers are being targeted, he said, with a focus on financial services and the travel segment, including airlines and rental-car companies.