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Grace Helbig to Help Marriott Make Digital Pitch

Grace Helbig has found a new place to stay when she’s hanging out on the Web: Marriott.

The YouTube comedienne and E! show host will hold forth for the hotel company as part of a digital-video push to get customers to come to Marriott’s booking site directly instead of using a third-party travel outlet to get rooms. Rather than utter sentences like the one you just read, however, Marriott let Helbig suggest interesting scenarios that would help get the messages across in a different way.

“She had input on the scripts, gave us some ideas to make them better, make them more authentic and natural to her tone, voice and style,” said David Beebe, vice president of global creative and content marketing for Marriott International. If Helbig’s audience thinks she’s serving up scripted talking points, they will “turn it off immediately,” he said. “Most global brands want to talk about their features and benefits,” which will repel people who just want to see some of Helbig’s antics.

To be sure, the new videos have some of the trappings of more traditional commercials. But Helbig does her best to entertain, urging people to be “direct” in their interactions with each other and the people they meet as they travel. Viewers will also be reminded they can book rooms directly at Marriott’s site.

Marriott has business reasons for trying to solicit a closer relationship with the people staying at its hotels. Travelers who book directly have more control over the details of their reservation if they need to make a change, eliminating the prospect of a stay that disappoints. And Marriott also has a better chance of maintain contact with customers who use their site instead of a travel operator or other vendor.

Marriott worked with Above Average, the digital-media outlet that is part of Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video. While Above Average has been known for creating comedic shorts in the recent past, the company has also been working to secure alliances with advertisers to create content for them as well. In recent months. Above Average has created work for Oreo, Lexus and Hasbro’s Scrabble.

The videos will be posted on YouTube and show up in other social-media outlets, Beebe said.

Marriott hopes the chance to see a fun video featuring Helbig gives viewers something they think is of value, which could make them more open to paying attention to the hotelier’s message before all is said and done. “We didn’t come to her and say, ‘Here’s our message. Read it like this,’ or ‘We’re hiring you, so you have to do it like this,’” said Beebe. “This is a really collaborative effort between all of us, sitting down and making sure the tone was right for her audience.”

The Helbig effort is part of a larger suite of Marriott tactics that aim to lure consumer attention through storytelling, but not always a big dose of hard sell. Under Beebe, the hotelier has devised a series of marketing videos that try to entertain first, and sell more subtly. In March, Marriott unveiled a 17-minute action comedy titled “Two Bellmen,” shot entirely at the JW Marriott Los Angeles.

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