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Ritz-Carlton Gets Social With "Six Word Wows"

  |  May 28, 2014   |  Comments

Ritz-Carlton’s Six Word Wows campaign taps into a long-running internal program that celebrates the memories created at Ritz-Carlton properties, but whittles these stories down to six words each to make them more shareable and to inspire guests to easily contribute their own.

If brevity is the soul of wit, the latest campaign from luxury hotel chain Ritz-Carlton is witty indeed.

That's because the campaign, Six Word Wows, includes six-word original stories from the brand. The hotel chain is also asking guests to weigh in with their own pithy tales.

The campaign celebrates memories, tying into the brand's positioning as a creator of happy memories while also allowing guests to share fast, easy-to-digest stories on social channels.

Six Word Wows began appearing May 12 across multiple platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+, as well as the Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo, in both English and Mandarin.

Examples included, "Honeymoon Misfortune. Aloha Recreated. Love Prevails," and, "Dinner 'Til Dawn. Laughter. Years Regained."

According to Ritz-Carlton, the campaign takes its cue from the novelist Ernest Hemingway, who was once challenged to write a story in six words and came up with, "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

The brand started with eight of its own stories, but plans to continue indefinitely, says vice president of global marketing Clayton Ruebensaal.

"It's something that can grow and grow as we continue to populate our database of stories. I hope over time consumer engagement will lead us into new, exciting areas as well as [that guests] are engaged and participate in the conversation," he says. "I never like it when a brand gives consumers a lot of homework, like shoot a video and edit it. I think we've created a quick thing [that will make guests say], 'I remember my story. I can do that,' on Facebook or whatever channel they choose."

Memories have long been a part of Ritz-Carlton's DNA.

In fact, according to Ruebensaal, the brand has a library of 300,000 internal stories as a result of a program first instituted in 1983 in which its corporate arm chooses two stories weekly about amazing guest experiences. The stories are chosen from its 85 locations around the world and disseminated to all sites for all employees to hear in a morning meeting.

The brand targets what it calls the "affluent tribe," or luxury travelers who are leaving their beautiful homes to go to new places and experience something unforgettable, Ruebensaal says.

"When they're flipping through a photo album in 20 years, we hope it's because of Ritz-Carlton that it's unforgettable and that's how we're positioning the brand," he says. "We're seeing how memories are shared today online and the opportunity for us was, 'How do we tell our story in our space?' [Consumers are] sharing trip pictures and memories on Instagram and Facebook, so how does Ritz-Carlton inject itself into those conversations, not just in an expected way, but how do we actually add to the conversation and do something that makes it more engaging?"

Ruebensaal says advertising agency Team One came up with the idea of using the brand's 300,000 internal stories, but whittling them down to Hemingway-esque snapshots that would be more easily digestible on social channels.

The brand uses the hashtag #RCMemories for this and other social initiatives.

"We wanted a tagline that would live on through time in the social space so we could over time have all of our content aggregated in one place," Reubensaal says. "A lot of brands jump around and that might work fine, but we build equity so over time all of the pictures taken at a Ritz-Carlton hotel and engaged consumers' tagged comments on Twitter end up going to one place."

For his part, Augustine Fou, a senior digital strategy adviser, says Ritz-Carlton's Six Word Wows campaign is "awesome in so many ways," in part because it is pithy and acknowledges the included platforms as well as modern users' need for bite-sized content. It also includes actual feedback from customers, which he says is far better than any form of market research in which consumers are asked in an artificial environment or way.

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Lisa Lacy

In addition to ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, Lisa's work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.

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