Down to Earth with Hilton: Q&A with Carole Munroe - Senior Director, Global Consumer Communications

Jordan Kelley, Content Director, Brandstorytelling.tv

In July, Netflix debuted a new show featuring host Zac Efron traversing the globe in search of ways to be more mindful about his own health and the health of the planet. Down to Earth with Zac Efron quickly rose in the ranks of the Netflix top 10, hitting the number one mark twice in two weeks. Efron's casual personality combined with learning to improve quality of life and the planet, set against the backdrop of stunning global locations, captured the attention of home-bound viewers whose Summer plans had been dashed by the pandemic. And while the typical viewer may have been fixated on beautiful locations like Puerto Rico, Peru, and Iceland, any brand storyteller tuning in is sure to have been taken with an entirely different aspect of the show: the seamless integration of Hilton Hotels. Brand Storytelling caught up with Carole Munroe, Senior Director, Global Consumer Communications at Hilton Worldwide, to gain some insight into what makes for such a seamless partnership and how aligning with content that amplifies a brand's purpose pays off:


What initially inspired this partnership?


When New World Distribution and Brian Volk-Weiss’ Nacelle production company reached out to Hilton about being the official hotel sponsor for Down To Earth With Zac Efron, the request landed with the Global Consumer Communications team, the perfect spot to evaluate such an opportunity – from a production, content, and PR and Marketing partnership perspective. Most important to us was the opportunity to be an organic part of the series storyline, not just a sponsor in name only. We did our research. Brian has a strong track record with Netflix and A-list talent. We saw the potential in associating Hilton’s global brand with the global footprints of Netflix and Discovery on a travel topic with strong multi-generational appeal. When the series storyline was solidified, it became an even better fit with sustainability as a core premise. As the hotel leader in sustainable travel, driven by our corporate responsibility commitment, Travel With Purpose, we believed our participation would present a uniquely Hilton experience. For us that’s a key criterium for evaluating content.


What was the process like of integrating different Hilton locations and experiences into the program?

First, we had to decide which of Hilton’s brands made the most sense for this opportunity. We decided on the flagship Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand because it is iconic, easily translatable around the world and is representative of the Hilton enterprise of 18 brands and growing, with fantastic resort experiences in highly sought-after locations. Hilton Hotels & Resorts was also a great strategic fit for marketing to young business travelers who prioritize business and leisure travel. Once that decision was made, we knew it would be pretty easy to deliver great experiences and visually interesting stories and content wherever the producers chose to go. As the show concept was further defined and shoot schedules/locations were finalized, we worked in partnership with the production team to integrate experiences that felt like a natural extension to the series itself. At Hilton, we have a 100-year track record as a global innovator, and our strong sustainability commitment is evident around the world.

How do Hilton’s values align with the values being put forth in the show?

The series aligns quite well with Hilton’s own sustainability priorities outlined in our Travel With Purpose initiative, which guides Hilton to cut our environmental impact in half and double our social impact investments by 2030. Through Travel With Purpose, Hilton is fully committed to redefining sustainable travel and tourism and exploring new ways to reduce environmental impact and strengthen communities. We are thrilled that Down To Earth With Zac Efron is inspiring millions of viewers and fans to do the same. The series explores important topics and initiatives around climate change, sustainability and healthful living in ways that promote curiosity and conversation and it makes ideas accessible to many more people. The series highlights several uniquely Hilton moments such as bamboo bicycles built by Team Members at the Hilton London Bankside, the leadership role the iconic Caribe Hilton played in the re-birth of Puerto Rico after hurricane devastation, and the unique way Hilton extends its hospitality to honeybees on the rooftop of New York Hilton Midtown to improve ecologic health. Through our hotel sponsorship, we are also able to use the series to ignite interest in even more Hilton travel content that we might share through our owned and earned channels.