Hyatt deliberated scrapping its new branded-content work after Charlottesville riots
When white nationalists and counterprotesters clashed in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend, Hyatt found itself in a bit of a bind. It was about to launch a monthlong branded-content partnership with The Atlantic that revolves around the themes of inclusion, understanding and the importance of coming together. With tensions running high, the hotel chain didn’t know whether to proceed with the partnership that took over a year to create — and definitely didn’t want to come off as opportunistic.
“The events of this weekend have shaken the country,” said Maryam Banikarim, global CMO of Hyatt. “We took pause over the weekend and on Monday to really decide whether we should stay the course or do something differently.”
Hyatt isn’t the only brand to hesitate when it comes to releasing work that could be judged as politically driven. In March, for instance, brands like YouTube, Microsoft, Chevrolet and CoverGirl began promoting Muslim inclusivity through ads without saying they were political. Hyatt was among these. In its Oscars ad campaign “For a World of Understanding,” the brand features a woman wearing a hijab. On one hand, brands have to find a way to tap into the zeitgeist to connect with consumers. On the other hand, they must be wary of getting called out for taking positions in the polarized environment. Since Donald Trump took office, brands such as Under Armour, Kellogg’s, New Balance, Chobani and L.L. Bean have faced boycotts for airing their political beliefs.