Mini-films mark new marketing model for Milici Valenti
MILICI VALENTI NG PACK
has created a new marketing product for client Starwood Hotels & Resorts
' Hawaii properties. An advertisement is not an advertisement if it's branded entertainment.
Well OK, maybe that's splitting hairs, but there is a difference.
Milici has created seven short films, using Starwood hotels as a backdrop, designed to break through the clutter of most advertising messages and entertain and engage viewers. The films do not feature a direct sales message.
"We were asked to update sales videos, but when we looked at Starwood's overall marketing plan, given that the media is fragmenting so much, we saw there were gaps that we had the opportunity to fill," said Bill Weeshoff, account supervisor.
The videos are intended for people who are just thinking about a vacation and are not yet in the planning stages.
"We're hoping to engage them in a unique way, so that when it's time to plan a trip to Hawaii, we are part of the consideration set," he said.
The films are not designed to air as TV commercials.
"With TiVo, we've missed them. We don't even become part of the consideration set," said Weeshoff.
Beginning tomorrow the films will be available for download from the Starwood Web site.
Milici also will upload the films to Google video and the wildly popular online timewaster known as YouTube -- both at no cost.
"When you look at media costs, that worked out pretty well," Weeshoff said.
DVDs of the short films are already in Starwood's hands for distribution to travel agents and meeting planners who request them.
The films can be played in agents' offices for customers to watch but, for industry purposes, there is more to the discs than just the films.
"We took what we'd call a traditional sales video and chopped it up into very efficient sections," similar to the special feature sections on a movie DVD.
A table of contents allows travel professionals to "cut to the chase," by viewing information about rooms and suites, activities, meeting venues, etc., Weeshoff said.
"That way, you're not boring a travel agent to tears and having them fast-forward, unengaged."
The films may find themselves on Starwood's in-room television in key feeder markets. The films could be viewed by a business traveler in Chicago, for instance, who might be engaged enough to look further into a Hawaii vacation stay at a Starwood property, he said.
Weeshoff said the agency is also exploring distribution of the short films to key cities for free-on-demand viewing. The agency hopes to strike deals where it will only have to pay each time a film is selected for viewing, or, per impression -- as opposed to paying to get the films into the system. Such arrangements are possible, he said.
"Our goal is to start people doing research," to point them to the Starwood Web site where they can find out more about staying with Starwood in Hawaii.
It can't all be touchy-feely though. Metrics must be involved to track results.
For instance, downloads from the Starwood Hawaii film page are trackable. For those viewing the DVD on a computer, clicking from the DVD to the Starwood Web site can also be tracked.
"And from there we can start to see how people behave," Weeshoff said.
The agency is staging an invitation-only reception tomorrow night to play the films for clients, cast, crew and key business leaders as a sort of kick-off of its 60th anniversary.
"The agency's always been founded on innovative ideas and thinking," Weeshoff said. Starwood has "always been an innovative client and Cheryl Williams, our key contact ... is constantly asking us for new, better and greater ideas."
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org