JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts, often touted as a forerunner among brands taking full advantage of the streaming age, is busy creating a new short film, following the success of its original branded comedy, Two Bellmen.
The sequel, Two Bellmen Two, stars Slumdog Millionaire actor Freida Pinto (pictured). Shot in Dubai, production is slated to begin this month. The film will also feature parkour stunts by the group Substance Over Hype.
Actors and stuntmen William Spencer (Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2) and Caine Sinclair (Grimm, How I Met Your Mother) will return as the titular bellmen. It will premiere in January 2016 and be available on YouTube and other online platforms, though Marriott has not specified which ones.
Two Belllmen Two will see the bellmen racing through the streets of Dubai to retrieve a confidential presentation for businesswoman Sandra (Pinto), a guest at the JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai.
David Beebe, VP, global creative and content marketing for Marriott International, told StreamDaily in an email that casting Pinto is part of the Marriott’s strategy to align with stars and brands that consumers already like.
“If we want to be relevant, we need to stop interrupting what consumers are interested in and become what they are interested in,” he said.
Marriott launched its own content studio in September 2014 and has since created original content for campaigns for YouTube, Snapchat, and linear network AXS TV. It launched a branded series starring YouTuber Taryn Southern, brought on Grace Helbig for a recent digital campaign and collaborated with online music sensation Sam Tsui for a music video shot in one of its hotels.
For Beebe, embracing digital platforms and online storytelling isn’t just an asset to give Marriott a cutting edge: it’s a survival mechanism.
“The fact is consumers are now in control of when, where and how they interact with brands,” he said. “It’s a hard reality for many brand and marketing executives to admit. The old traditional marketing habits of interrupting consumers by shouting brand features and benefits just doesn’t work. Old habits die hard, but so do brands that don’t change,” he said.
Beebe said the company is already working on plans for Two Bellmen Three, which will be shot at another JW Marriott hotel in Asia. He said the company is also experimenting with other digital initiatives that it will roll out soon, including real-time streaming.