Go to the beach during your lunch hour no matter how cold it is outside: Virtual Vacations and the future of travel!

Did it just get cold where you live? After yet another day in Chicago with weather in the 60s yesterday, I (consciously) knew that our good luck was going to run out. I just didn’t think it was going to be so soon…

Today marks the emergence of my winter coat from the closet, with a severe winter storm on the horizon starting in about an hour. Sigh. All good things must come to an end.

Given the recent announcement of Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels, (to create the world’s largest hotel company) I thought speaking about their current technologically-driven marketing strategy would be particularly timely.

Take a trip to the beach (virtually!) with Marriott Hotels.  In 2014, Marriott Hotels introduced the first-ever “Teleporters” in public areas throughout New York City. Using advanced virtual reality technology, Marriott developed fully-immersive booths that “travelers” could step into for a 100-second journey to a Hawaiian resort. Wearing a virtual reality headset, the experience appealed to all “senses” with synthetic scents, fans, and a rolling platform to mimic motion. The response to the experience was so overwhelmingly positive, Marriott decided to offer in-room VR headsets by request starting in Fall 2015. While consumers can purchase their own VR headsets from any big-box electronics store, Marriott’s will be more sophisticated and offer content not found anywhere else.

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Retrieved from Prodigy.Umbrella

Ahhhhhhh…..

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Retrieved from Marriott.com

Nope, sorry, you’re still here.

While Marriott understands that virtual reality technology will likely never replace actual vacations, (and quite frankly, it would be counterintuitive for a hotel company to try and promote an alternate means of travel that would eliminate the need for their services) they hope their emphasis on technology will appeal to younger travels and millennials. However, Marriott could sufficiently develop the technology enough that travelers would be able to “preview” a new property. Additionally, they hope to offer immersive experiences to destinations that most travelers will never be able to afford, such as Mt. Kilimanjaro.

So what do you think? Is this just an elaborate, creative guerilla marketing stunt for Marriott? Marketing that employs virtual reality technology, a part of the “augmented reality” marketing movement, is growing increasingly popular across a wide range of industries.

Do you think there’s any chance that this technology will “take off” as a viable way for travelers to preview a resort or “travel” to an exotic, out-of-reach location? Or do you simply see it as an inventive marketing stunt – and that alone? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Maybe I don’t have the time off to get to Hawaii right now, but I sure wouldn’t mind a brief escape to Hawaii during my office lunch break…

Go to the beach during your lunch hour no matter how cold it is outside: Virtual Vacations and the future of travel!

Digital Marketing: Does “our power” equal “our responsibility”?

Spiderman’s Uncle Ben once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” This post doesn’t have anything to do with defeating the Green Goblin, but this quote always comes to my mind. When thinking about emerging forms of media, we’re constantly reminded that technology is only getting smarter. More sophisticated forms of technology enable more interactive, immersive experiences for marketers to create for prospective customers.

For example, Toshiba is developing “digital changing booths” that allow customers to virtually try on clothes through a display using 3D scanners and cameras. While this technology has been attempted by brands in the United States and Europe in years past,  none have reached Toshiba’s level of sophistication. Imagine the impact that such a fully formed, developed technology could have on fashion retail marketing. It could be revolutionary. It could improve the lives of individuals who cannot change clothing without assistance, or those too ashamed of their bodies to try on new clothes.

Now, on the other hand…

Sophisticated technology can also have some pretty scary implications for marketing, too. I’m specifically referring to a 2013 “prankvertising” stunt in Brazil to promote the release of the latest Chucky film, horror’s lovable red-haired “doll.” (Yes, that Chucky.)

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Retrieved from Fanpop.com

Sorry for the scary image. I don’t like it any more than you do. Unless you like these movies. In that case, my sincere apologies.

In a lighted billboard at a bus stop in Brazil, an actor dressed like Chucky actually stood inside the billboard to spook unsuspecting transit riders. No one knew that a real actor was actually posing as Chucky. A normal bus stop poster/billboard it most certainly was not! Hidden cameras captured riders casually waiting for the bus. After a few seconds, Chucky’s signature laughter would be heard and the lights would flicker. While this spooked some, many still seemed relatively unfazed. However, a few seconds after that, the actor playing Chucky would suddenly “bust” through the poster, running after petrified and unsuspecting patrons with a toy knife. You can see the petrifying video here.

Personally, I don’t think such an adver-“prank” would ever “fly” here in the United States. I was shocked to discover that Universal actually approved this prank, given the potential for lawsuits. I don’t find such a prank to be funny at all, especially given current circumstances. Being chased by a “doll” wielding a knife, while perhaps “sounding” somewhat harmless, would actually be horrifying – and potentially scarring to many. Growing up in the United States, have I become too “PC” or do you agree with my thoughts?

Do you think that this is another example of a company using their marketing power for “evil” instead of “good”? Do we agree with me that we have a “responsibility” as marketers to consider the implications of our decisions? Let me know in the comments below!

Digital Marketing: Does “our power” equal “our responsibility”?

Real-Time Marketing Can Be…”Real Bad”

At a social media conference I attended last week, one of our presenters highly suggested that we check out the Tumblr page, Real-Time Marketing Sucks, for a good laugh. Unfortunately, this page hasn’t been updated since 2014, so I’m thinking about starting a petition for the owners to start it up again. Any takers?

The phrase “real-time marketing” was largely coined in response to the winner of the 2013 Super Bowl. Do you remember who won?

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**Generic stock photo of a football team.

I don’t even know which teams played that year, to be honest. 2013 was the year that Oreo’s creative genius was highly praised. When the power went out in the stadium, Oreo’s agency created this viral graphic for Twitter to capitalize on this trend.

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* Tweet you’ve probably seen 1,000 times…but it is a classic.

I won’t go into any greater detail discussing this particular instance, since it’s almost “ancient history” now. I remember finding details of this “historic event” in a 2014 marketing textbook. However, I do bring it up since it did spark the “Real-Time Marketing” movement to capitalize on the popularity of current events to market your brand.

As you’ll see while browing Real-Time Marketing Sucks, there’s a right way, and a very (VERY) wrong way to go about this “trend.”

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No. Just no. Scandal (the TV show) and allergy/cold medicine? No, just no. No. Courtesy RTM Sucks. 

Don’t get me wrong – it’s awesome that emerging forms of media have “opened” the doors to a more-connected world. Brands can align themselves with current or trending events and communicate with customers 24/7. However, at the “core” of it all, you have to stay relevant and true to your brand’s message. Jumping on the “bandwagon” of any trend without any sort of strategy or purpose behind it does not do your brand, or your loyal fans, any justice.

Real-Time Marketing Can Be…”Real Bad”