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Ritz-Carlton launches $10M repositioning campaign

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. launched a $10 million advertising campaign on Sept. 16 to spread awareness of its new brand positioning. The Marriott-owned hotel chain created the effort, which includes direct mail, email, social media and banner ads, with Los Angeles-based agency Team One.

The company is distributing direct mail and email messages to its database promoting the luxury hotel chain’s new tagline, “Let Us Stay with You.” Ritz-Carlton replaced its previous “It’s Our Pleasure” slogan, which the brand launched in 2004. The chain will maintain its lion and crown logo but will lose the logo’s silver tray and white-gloved-hand visual.

“We still stand for service,” said Allison Sitch, senior corporate director of PR at Ritz-Carlton. “Now, the visuals depict the detail, the little touches of staying at our hotels. I don’t mean a rose petal on the bed. I mean the details of a moment in time during a stay with us. The visuals depict all of the moments that you will carry forward for a lifetime.”

The new positioning was designed to be more inclusive of non-affluent customers. Sitch said the messaging is meant to reach all types of customers but not in a “masstige (mass prestige)” way.

“If we were to market as one of the masstige luxury products, then we are taking away the aspirational essence of who we are,” she said. “It’s important we communicate in a way that maintains the aspirational essence, despite having consumers that buy a candle on our website and consumers that buy a multimillion-dollar condo to live with us.”

More than $5 million of the total $10 million advertising budget will be dedicated to digital aspects of the campaign, said Sitch.

“This will be the first time in our history we’ve spent more on [a campaign’s] digital [elements] than on print,” she added.

For example, the company will add information to its Foursquare page, detailing attractions around Ritz-Carlton hotels. The chain is also promising a personal message from company president Herve Humler in response to all Facebook posts on the Ritz-Carlton Wall, said Sitch. The company will also use Twitter for pre-activation to “learn more about customers,” she said.

“[Other] hotel companies, without exception, just load tips onto Foursquare about hotels,” she said. “We do not. We believe to add benefit to a traveler, we need to tell them about something happening outside their hotel. We don’t place ads on Facebook. We want people to engage with us there. I’m sure placing ads would bring us more fans, but we want Facebook to be the venue for Ritz-Carlton loyalists.”

Pandemic Labs handled all social-media aspects of the campaign and new brand positioning.

Internet consultancy RareMedium managed the launch of the new website, including easier search and more images, guest stories and experiences. Consumers can now create an account to see and manage reservations. Ritz-Carlton also removed 90% of the Adobe Flash previously used on the site.

The chain will run banner and print ads next month. Banner ads will appear on VanityFair.com, FT.com, CNNArabic.com, NewYorker.com, NPR.com and WallStreetJournalChina.com.

Print ads will appear in Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Vogue China and Monocle UK.

The company will not make any changes to the Ritz-Carlton Rewards program.

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