Starwood is targeting business travelers ages 25 to 45, and seeking to provide a chic environment to break the sameness of traditional urban hotels. It hopes to attract customers from independent boutique hotels and traditional upscale chains such as Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton.
In the process, it may siphon some travelers away from other Starwood properties, principally Sheraton and Westin.
"Hip, stylish, trendy" is how Brian Windle, VP-sales and marketing, described the new chain, which offers bellhops dressed in Armani-style suits and feather beds.
Many of the details about the introductory ads-local print supported the initial two hotel openings in New York and Atlanta-are still to be worked out.
DDB Needham Worldwide, Chicago, has created several possible efforts; Starwood executives are in the process of reviewing them.
"We've tried to create a reaction in the viewer with this advertising that will say this hotel brand will be different," said Bill McCann, group account director at the agency.
NEW YORK GETTING 2 MORE W'S
Starwood has put in review its $65 million Sheraton and Starwood Preferred Guest frequent-user program accounts, previously handled by Ogilvy & Mather, New York. That won't affect W.
Plans call for two more W's to open in New York this summer, and others in five additional U.S. cities by yearend. The first overseas hotel is expected to open in Sydney in October.
Overall, plans call for 50 W's within five years, including units in Tokyo, Milan, Paris and London.
Brad Cohen, an analyst with Sands Bros. & Co., said the trendy hotels will have an appeal in U.S. cities beyond fashion meccas like New York and San Francisco.
"In this technological age, people are exposed to new things more than ever before," Mr. Cohen said. "Everyone wants a piece of it, and this is their chance