Hilton touts some famous hotelgoers in $10 mil effort

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Hilton Hotel Corp. this week breaks its first global marketing effort in 35 years, a campaign using photographs of famous people at hotel events.

Tagged "It happens at the Hilton," the campaign features celebrities such as John Lennon and Yoko Ono on their honeymoon bed and talk-show host Larry King with supermodel Naomi Campbell. They are surrounded by shots of business and vacation events at the hotels.

Other celebrities appearing in the ads will include Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill.

This marks a new marketing alliance between Hilton Hotels Corp., which owns the brand in the U.S., and Hilton International, which owns the brand abroad. Together, the two companies have some 400 hotels in 50 nations.


The estimated $10 million campaign is the first work for Hilton from Bozell Worldwide, Costa Mesa, Calif., and London, which won the account in February.

Print ads will run in the U.S. in magazines such as Business Week, Newsweek, Time and United Hemispheres. International markets where the ads will run include Asia, Australia, Germany and the U.K.

Posters will be displayed in key international airports.

"There is a lot of hotel advertising out there, but if you take the logo off they are almost interchangeable," said Ken Sakoda, exec VP-creative at the agency. "We wanted a campaign nobody else could run."

He said Bozell used this concept as the single idea it presented to win the business.


While no other chain could boast the celebrity events Hilton includes in its archives, the campaign features everyday situations as well.

"We wanted consumers to know the hotel is accessible, not just for the rich and famous," Mr. Sakoda said.

The executive said that Bozell's successful "milk mustache" campaign for the National Fluid Milk Processors Education Program helped it in signing up the celebrities for Hilton.

"Hilton gave us a budget, and we offered every celebrity the same amount of money, a flat fee" to keep costs in check, he said.

Hilton executives indicated the campaign may move beyond print after the turn of the century.

Copyright October 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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