Four Seasons erases old tropes of luxury as part of brand relaunch

Diving brief:

  • Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is conducting a brand refresh with its largest paid media effort yet, by an announcement. Creative introduces new branding that rolls out across the company’s portfolio.
  • An advertising campaign, entitled “Luxury is our language of love”, revolves around artful interpretations of customer experiences. The agency Le Truc de Publicis drew the ideas “from a real stay” from a combination of opinion polls, comments and interviews with the hotel teams.
  • Starcom’s media strategy focuses on digital video, social and digital out-of-home and includes a special collaboration with Vogue around New York Fashion Week (NYFW). Four Seasons, which is boosting brand equity, points to the strong rebound in travel, and also how hotel marketers might feel the pressure to innovate as the category recovers.

Overview of the dive:

Four Seasons is a name synonymous with upscale, but the retailer wants to showcase the human element of its business through the refresh. The multimillion-dollar campaign is not only Four Seasons’ largest by media spend to date, but also the first time the company has put a significant amount of paid media behind messages on brand equity.

The go-big mentality speaks to a few trends in hospitality. The category is trying to regain interest from consumers keen to go out globally amid the pandemic reopening, with many taking advantage of a relatively strong US dollar abroad. According to a recent survey by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, travel marketers expect to spend 27% more on media in the second half of the year than they originally anticipated, a jump that could help offset declines in other sectors such as autos.

But the resurgence of media activity means that hospitality is becoming competitive again after a quiet period. Hilton and IHG Hotel & Resorts have also recently introduced some of their brightest and most expensive campaigns in years. Meanwhile, traditional players continue to deal with disruption from home-sharing sites like Airbnb and Vrbo that are popular with younger Millennials and Gen Z travelers.

Four Seasons tries to distinguish its luxury positioning by bringing to life the unique stories of guests who have stayed at its various hotels and resorts, with an emphasis on personalized stays. In one ad, a dapper visitor to the Surf Club’s Miami, Florida location is recognized by staff for wearing clothing with the “El Tigre” monogram. They then give her personalized benefits with the same name, such as a set of El Tigre bathrobes.

The idea is to shoot a more empathetic angle than what is typically seen in luxury marketing without sacrificing premium flair. Balancing this required a research-intensive approach, brand representatives said.

“Le Truc used data and insights from guest stays to shine a light on unparalleled acts of hospitality in action, and the ‘Based on a Real Stay’ spots represent a refreshing and creative portrayal of our celebrated luxury brand. with a genuine heart,” Marc Speichert, chief commercial officer at Four Seasons, said in a press release.

Other elements of the campaign include a tie-up with Conde Nast around Vogue’s first Vogue World Fashion Experience at NYFW. Along with Le Truc and Starcom, Publicis Canada and Hawkeye Canada, Four Seasons’ guest relationship management agency, provided assistance on “Luxury is our love language.”

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