Marriott’s award-winning Content Studio, in partnership with NBTV Studios, has returned with a second season of StoryBooked - the anthology film series capturing the compelling and expressive personal journeys of members of Marriott’s trio of loyalty programs (Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest) traveling the world in search of inspiration for their own creative passions. The four new films feature Grammy-nominated musician Aloe Blacc, underwater performance artist and director Julie Gautier, movement artist and choreographer Jon Boogz, and Olympian and filmmaker Alexi Pappas.
Brand Storytelling caught up with Executive Creative Director: Global Creative + Content Marketing at Marriott International Marc Battaglia to learn more about Marriott’s ability to turn their customers’ stories into unique, beautiful, and internally valuable brand-created content:
StoryBooked: | Aloe Blacc on Ignoring Borders, Traveling Through Time and the Creative Process
How has StoryBooked evolved from Season 1 to Season 2?
In season 1 we were focused on more tangible forms of creativity such as painters and sculptors that were inspired to create physical artwork based on their journey. In season 2, we expanded this approach to those travelers who set out on a journey to fuel and drive their personal passions such as Grammy nominated musician Aloe Blacc or underwater artist Julie Gautier. From the get-go we knew we were going to leverage both seasons together in various formats, so it was also important we made sure our new cast complimented season 1 and the destinations remained unique.
How do you convince the C-suite to invest in content that transcends traditional marketing and enters the realm of cinematic storytelling?
It’s more of a holistic approach, we’re are part of larger set of tools rather than just one hammer. In other words, we can complement the marketing efforts throughout the year with story-driven content that can fill the gaps and live in a lot of places traditional campaigns can’t or shouldn’t such as entertainment first platforms. Also, shelf-life and second life are a big plus; when we invest in brand funded entertainment it does not have an expiration date on it the way more traditional campaigns do. A documentary, digital series or film can live well beyond the campaign cycle, be distributed on channels the campaign can’t, be re-released in different formats for a second life and lastly become IP for the brand itself.
StoryBooked:Underwater Artist Julie Gautier on Finding the Soul of Dance in Mexico's Cenotes
What was the impetus behind featuring creatives that are also loyalty members?
The main driver was to put ourselves in the consumers mindset by telling their own stories and celebrating the power of travel from their own personal perspective. They are the stars of their own stories, not us; it’s important to remember that as a brand our role is to empower the story to happen…not to be the story. Travel is this incredible force that has the ability to make you a better person. Very few actions in life have that potential and we wanted to celebrate that aspect since we view ourselves as a travel company, not just a portfolio of hotel brands. The idea of featuring creatives was to capture a sense of personal pursuits. The purpose is to go beyond just the transactional nature of being a loyalty member but tap into the emotional reason of why you are a member in the first place. Connect with how travel can fuel you personally and empowers you to pursue your own story. As a member of one of the most powerful loyalty programs in the world you have access to over 130 countries, 29 brands and endless experiences - so no matter where your passions lead you, we’re there.
What do these individuals’ stories illustrate and how does telling these stories push beyond the typical marketing messaging to simply “go travel”?
I think the stories celebrate our members in a truly unique manner. As a brand we illustrate the fact that we understand the various reasons of the “why” behind travel and the power that travel has the ability to create change, inspire and better understand the world. The stories aren’t about sitting under a palm tree and sipping drinks, although nothing wrong with that - the idea is to dig deeper into why we travel and how it has such an incredible effect on both the micro and macro level of global understanding. Travel itself has the ability to become an almost universal language that connect each of us, no matter the distance or the place.
What words of wisdom can you offer brand creatives/leaders who are considering cinematic storytelling investment but haven’t quite taken the plunge?
As you begin the process, be incredibly honest with your leadership as well as your own team. Ask yourselves “would I watch this?” Too many times in the branded entertainment world, content is developed in a conference room vacuum with a series of marketing checklists; Although you may have checked off all the boxes, if what your creating doesn’t feel entertaining or connect with you….start over - nothing else checked off will matter.
StoryBooked: | Olympian Alexi Pappas on Running and Writing Her Greek Heritage
The second installment of Marriott International’s cinematic docuseries, StoryBooked, is now available to screen at traveler.marriott.com/StoryBooked
About Marc Battaglia
Marc Battaglia is an award winning global creative executive and content marketing leader. He has a proven track record of building and leading creative teams for content studios and agencies. His expertise is in developing and executing branded entertainment, innovative marketing and story driven content that connects with consumers. Currently he is the Executive Creative Director of Global Creative + Content Marketing for Marriott International where he is in charge of leading creative for the internal agency and content studio for Marriott's 30 brands worldwide, across 5,700 properties in 110 countries on 6 continents. Prior to his role he served as VP+Creative Director for Spectrum, an emmy-award winning entertainment, branding and content studio.There he led a team of in-house producers, live-action directors, editors, animators, writers and interactive designers. He worked with partners such as Disney, Fox Sports and NatGeo Wild on developing new entertainment brands, online original content, marketing initiatives and network promotions that went way beyond traditional media solutions. Before joining Spectrum, he served in several creative lead roles including Head of Creative for multiple Fox Sports Net brands as well as Senior Producer of Branding for global retail giant HSN. Through his experiences, he has garnered several accolades including numerous National Promax/BDA, ADDY, Emmy, BizTech, ANDY & W3 Awards.