Raul Ortiz is marketing director for the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands in the Americas. He has oversight for the teams that develop the annual marketing plans for the brands, execute integrated marketing programs behind one big brand campaign idea, and develop long-range, demand-generating, brand-building capabilities.
Ortiz recently participated in our “4 Questions for Marketing Innovators” series.
1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
Building and developing advertising that adds value to consumers’ lives. Most brand and product leaders have put the consumer at the heart of their innovation strategy. Usually this is done by focusing on improving some aspect of their target’s life. Unfortunately, we are not always as disciplined when it comes to advertising, and we far too often put our needs and wants ahead of those of our audience.
2. Why is this so important?
Technology has allowed consumers to be bombarded with more advertising than ever before. When you add this to the fact that there are a plethora of brands asking consumers to buy this or that, overcoming consumer apathy toward advertising is one of the biggest challenges to marketing ROI. In order to break through to consumers and drive purchase behavior, we need to be smarter about developing creative that connects with consumers’ minds and their hearts. Technology has narrowed competitive product advantages so significantly in the past couple of decades. While striving to build continually improving product experiences, we also need to have holistic advertising that is relatable and improves the lives of our viewers/readers after experiencing it.
3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
This disciplined approach to advertising would help consumers in numerous ways. Call me idealistic, but I aspire to help create a world where commercial breaks are a source of intrigue versus a source for groans. I want to be in a world where digital advertising anticipates the needs of our guests and connects them proactively not just with a product but, ultimately, to answers to questions they have at a life level.
If we are able to meet these ideals, we are giving consumers something no product or solution can replace, and that is time. The less time they spend fretting over where they’re going on vacation or where they’ll stay for their next big business trip, the more time they have for doing things that drive the most enjoyment or productivity in their lives.
4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
The more we respect the time of our audiences and consumers, the more they will reward us with trial and brand loyalty. The more trial and loyalty we drive with every dollar we spend, our brands will be rewarded with improved ROI. In order for advertising to have an effect, consumers have to engage with it. As I mentioned before, consumers are flooded with advertising, which means we need to give them a reason to engage with our social posts, content marketing, or 30-second ads.
I think that our campaign for the Holiday Inn brand, “Journey to Extraordinary,” provides a great case study on the impact that heart- and mind-opening advertising can have on a business. The campaign started in 2014 as a traditional campaign, called “Change Your View,” that had the goal of informing consumers about the significant investment our franchisees have made to improve our hotels and our service. We were effective with this approach, but our creative lead at Ogilvy & Mather, Jason Aspes, challenged us to tweak our approach and have our real guests tell consumers about their Holiday Inn travel experiences and share how the brand is helping them to make travel more memorable, more productive, and ultimately more enjoyable. The change to move the campaign from the perspective of the brand to that of our guests has worked out brilliantly for the business. We have been able to build the equity attributes we are targeting and drive unaided awareness and consideration in consecutive years. We have also seen big decreases in cost per conversion in both our TV and digital buys.
5. Bonus: What is your favorite activity outside of work?
Just one? I really love coaching my son’s soccer team, but I probably most enjoy exploring the awesome restaurant scene in Atlanta with my wife and friends.