Cannes Lions

Becoming the Story


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Our insight stemmed from a simple observation of our audience at the innovation conferences Marriott sponsored.

Our audience was captivated by the speakers on stage – the startup entrepreneurs. They had come to learn from these speakers in the hope to one day become an entrepreneur themselves.

At the same time, they were not noticing the event sponsors vying for their attention. A survey we conducted demonstrated that only 20% of brand sponsors were recalled on average at these events.

Our insight was that as a sponsor, Marriott was not only occupying the wrong space in these events, it was chasing the wrong audience.

We actually needed to capture the attention of the startup entrepreneurs who our younger business travelers so clearly admired. If Marriott could win over the startup entrepreneurs, they would win over the wider tech-engaged audience.

This led us to our strategy: Become the innovation story.


We launched Marriott TestBED with a call to action to startups in three countries - UK, Germany and France.

We then continued to document the entire programme:

1. Our shortlisting process

2. A ‘Dragon’s Den’ event for finalists

3. The actual product pilots of the selected startups within Marriott hotels.

Over 5 months we produced content and worked with our PR teams and partners to amplify this content to the niche audience of Tech entrepreneurs.

Over 50 pieces of content were created, combining press releases, interviews, editorials, images and documentary videos. These were distributed across Tech and travel publications and amplified via paid media placement, native video seeding and social networking.

The industry and our audience picked up on our story well beyond expected, and our campaign reached far beyond the three targeted countries and spread organically across the entire globe.


1. Despite media and PR in only three markets, we received entries from over 22 markets across 3 continents.

2. Content smashed benchmarks - videos saw 270% improved CTR and completion rate of 40%.

3. Article dwell time increased by 70%

4. TestBED’s niche microsite was visited by more than 50K unique users.

5. Over 250 news articles in Tech and travel publications

6. Social listening showed TestBED was picked up across the globe, with 76% of conversations linking Marriott with innovation

7. Marriott is being invited to speak about TestBED at innovation conferences to the same audience we set out to appeal to in the first place.

8. This is not a one off. TestBED is entering its second cycle this year and expanding to more markets.

9. A brief to refresh a brand image has led to an idea that is helping to shape Marriott’s future guest experience.

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