Jumping Ahead: InterContinental Hotels Group’s Latest Viral Campaign
As organisations continue to embrace viral marketing as a way of building their brand online, New Media Knowledge took a look at InterContinental Hotels Group’s latest viral campaign.
The global economic downturn has taken its toll on the hospitality sector as business and leisure travel has declined. This has forced hoteliers to be more creative in the campaigns they run to attract customers. One of the world’s largest hotel chains is the InterContinental Hotel s Group (IHG), and it recently launched an online viral campaign aimed at drawing people to its Get a Free Night website.
IHG recruited media consultancies Mischief PR and VisualMedia to help create the “biggest bed jump in history”. Mischief PR established the concept of erecting the world’s four biggest beds – 45ft long, 35ft wide and 10ft high – in four different time zones, namely Shanghai, London, Paris and New York. The beds had a surface area of 100 standard double beds with trampolines built into each mattress. Champion trampoline artists from each country started the “bed jump” before the public got their chance to take part.
London-based VisualMedia co-ordinated the photography and video content throughout the day and NMK caught up with the company’s managing director, Scott Shillum, to find out more.
What has been IHG’s previous experience with this sort of viral marketing?
IHG understands the importance of viral marketing and has been using our VisClip product [a web-ready, media-friendly, pre-packaged short video that can be dropped straight into an online story as well as uploaded to video sharing sites] for the past year to help raise brand awareness and draw attention to specific promotions and announcements. Some previous VisClips IHG has commissioned in the past year can be viewed here and here.
What were the logistical challenges and how did you overcome them?
The turnaround time for each element was incredibly tight in order to meet media deadlines but thanks to the huge advances in technology over the past few years we were able to meet or beat the deadlines in every country.
The photography element was fairly straightforward: Assign great photographers with state of the art kit who can edit on site and then send a selection of pictures to our file transfer protocol (FTP) site from location using built-in WiFi.
Video is a slightly more complex proposition but in essence the process is the same. With the right software, typically Mac-based Final Cut Pro, it is now possible to do a full video edit onsite too. Most modern video cameras no longer need tapes but instead use memory cards much like those in digital still cameras - only with more capacity - which negates the need to digitise the footage post-shoot. Instead, you can plug the card directly into the laptop and view the raw footage immediately. This is a huge advantage when time is of the essence.
Prior to the day, we sent out a fairly loose brief to the in-country video teams on what the finished VisClip should look like and encouraged them to add in local colour as much as possible along with some branding. The videos and the microsite can be viewed here.
VisClips are designed for online viewing and as a consequence are relatively small files. B Roll is typically unedited and uncompressed footage so that the broadcasters can take their own clips from it. This does mean that very large files need to be transferred and in this instance we produced some physical B Roll tapes for the Chinese broadcasters as this is their preferred method. We then uploaded the content from all four locations to [web-based video marketing and distribution platform] The Newsmarket who were able to distribute the B Roll quality footage through their website for the late evening news bulletins.
All in all a complex but ultimately successful project that IHG saw huge value in. Video was once seen as an expensive and exotic product but actually had fairly limited use. With modern technology, the cost of creating this type of content has reduced significantly yet the ability to get that content out to a large web-based audience has opened up a whole new world of opportunities. If exploited properly, it has huge value for the PR community.
How many hits has the homepage, the Flickr and the YouTube site had in the first week?
Within seven days of the campaign there were 830 image and video downloads from VM Online [VisualMedia’s free online image and video library] by members of the media.
Has IHG seen an increase in bookings as a result or is this mainly a long-term profile-building exercise?
The campaign was combined with a wide-spread marketing push.
Leslie McGibbon, Global Head of Corporate Affairs, IHG, said of the campaign: "By working as a global team with key partners like VisualMedia we delivered an event and campaign that I believe will change how IHG thinks about marketing and PR in the future. Using social media like Twitter, realtime photo streaming through Flickr and video content via YouTube our microsite created a great buzz and we also obtained extensive broadcast and online media coverage."