W Marriott Is Exploring Beyond the Typical Commercial With Branded Travel Series


Celebrity entrepreneur Bill Rancic hosts the show

Bill Rancic explores Venice with the help of JW Marriott. YouTube: JW Marriott

The days of the typical commercial, where it interrupts the viewer’s experience, might be coming to a close as another brand announced its intentions to create and distribute more of its own content.

“We’re flipping the script by becoming the creators,” said David Beebe, the head of Marriott International’s content studio. “You can’t just make a commercial anymore. You have to create something of value.”

Beebe is behind the studio, which was created in 2014, and team that focuses on distributing content of all types including digital series, documentary-style TV programs or short films. All of these pieces of content are story-driven, as that’s what holds interest these days.

“Our approach is to stop interrupting what they’re interested in, and become that instead,” said Beebe.

The latest of these content series comes from the winner of the first season of The Apprentice, Bill Rancic, whose exclusive development deal with Marriott Content Studios was announced earlier this year. The series will highlight some of the JW Marriott properties, one of Marriott’s 30 brands around the world.

In the show, titled Open Invitation, Rancic will travel the world with his wife Giuliana (who is a familiar face on E!) to visit Marriott properties; more importantly, he’ll give viewers a look at the cities themselves, paying close attention to the food and the people.

“Seasoned travelers can learn things they didn’t know about cities they’ve been to many times,” said Rancic, “and beginning travelers can see stuff they’ll want to experience on their first trip.”

According to Beebe, most of the content studio’s creations are available on Marriott’s entire distribution network: People can watch on an exclusive multichannel digital distribution system including YouTube, Marriott’s website, in-room and partner channels.

“This series isn’t only about the hotels,” explained Beebe. “Sure, some of it is shot on property, but the show is about exploring the city and meeting the culture where it is. We want to inspire people to travel the world, or to maybe remind them to go back to cities they’ve visited before and discover something new.”

“I’m such a curious kind of person, that this series suits my personality well,” said Rancic. “I’m always asking questions. When I married Giuliana, I told her our life would always be an adventure.”

The show will follow Rancic as he tries to “do things that aren’t so typical or obvious” for first-time travelers to a new city. In the first episode, which is embedded below, the couple explores Venice while researching potential future recipes for his restaurants around the U.S.

While these branded content series from Marriott feature its luxury and business-friendly locations, they still encourage people to explore the markets and views that are right beyond their room.

Rancic, who got his start thanks to Donald Trump’s reality show, confirmed that “Democrats, Republicans, independents, and bipartisans” will all be able to enjoy Open Invitation.

“It’s about seeing our beautiful world and what it has to offer,” said Rancic. “There’s even a family element, and I hope we can involve our son, Duke, in future episodes. I share the same beliefs and philosophies as the Marriott team, which is so refreshing.”

“We don’t get in our own way creatively,” said Beebe.

This article first appeared in www.adweek.com

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