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‘French Kiss’ Short Film Helps Marriott Check in to Global Audience

Marriott Hotels is going international with its short film production arm, debuting “French Kiss,” which will bow on YouTube, in select theaters and in Marriott hotels worldwide May 19.

Following the success of the studio’s first short, “Two Bellmen,” which both features and takes place in the downtown Los Angeles JW Marriott, the studio set its sights abroad; “French Kiss” is a love story that unfolds at the Paris Marriott Hotel Champs-Elysees.

Like BMW, Ikea and other companies that have created videos meant to be consumed as entertainment rather than commercials, Marriott is targeting young viewers who don’t mind being marketed to as long as the content is fun and organic.

“Obviously if you’re doing a love story, you start in Paris,” Marriott International’s VP of global creative and content marketing David Beebe told Variety.

Beebe promises that “French Kiss” isn’t just a 20-minute-long Marriott commercial.

“It’s story first,” he insists. “You experience the hotel, the features of the hotel, without us actually saying it. We’re just showing it to you.” The Paris Marriott “really serves as the platform to enable a great story to take place. We didn’t try to sell anything….We create the story from scratch where really the brand hotel really is just a character in the story,” Beebe says.

Beebe has found that the subtlety of the branding appeals to younger consumers. “That’s what millennials — which include next-generation travelers who we’re really targeting with this type of content — appreciate. In this case, we’re providing entertainment value.”

Marketing to millennials indicates that with “Two Bellmen” and “French Kiss,” Marriott’s goals are long term. “You build a value exchange, and then hopefully when they’re traveling, they will consider you as a brand next time they’re booking a hotel because they’ll recall that you provided value for them first,” Beebe says.

“French Kiss” stars Tyler Ritter (“The McCarthys”) and French actress Margot Luciarte, along with French YouTube personalities. “We always try to cast a cross section of talent from across different screens,” Beebe says, in order to align with the the short film’s distribution plan.

Beebe calls the distribution strategy “all-screens,” including limited theatrical distribution in Los Angeles and some in Paris, though YouTube is the main digital platform. Marriott’s own media network also distributes the videos on Marriott.com, which targets viewers in 10 languages, as well as in hotel rooms.

Marriott collaborated on “French Kiss” with producers Ian Sander and Kim Moses, known for their TV series “Ghost Whisperer” and feature films including “D.O.A.”

“French Kiss” debuts on YouTube and in Marriott rooms May 19.

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