Marriott Gets Bullish on Content Marketing and New Talent Is Grabbing the Horns, Part II

03/18/2015 10:12 am ET | Updated May 17, 2015

CLICK HERE to read Part I of this insightful content media marketing article.

In Los Angeles, artist Malakai was bopping through Facebook. His parents know him as Daniel Cabrera but the street knows him as Malakai. He saw a post that David Beebe had taken a position as Vice President of Creative and Content Marketing for Marriott International. Cool. Malakai knows that guy.

Over the summer, a headline in Variety read, How Marriott Wants to be the Red Bull of the Hotel Industry. Anyone, under 40 with a beating heart, will find the article interesting. To the consumer, Red Bull is a cyclone of entertainment and action. To anyone with the slightest interest in marketing and advertising, Red Bull is a treasure of cunning, wonder and awe. The article states that Marriot International is ramping up a new department to create entertainment-driven marketing content.

Malakai, an impresario, a musician, a creator and a filmmaker, had worked with David Beebe on a couple of small jobs in the past, a funny skit for Petsami and a short clip for Stunt Nation. Malakai casually mentioned this to his business guru, Scott Ehrlich. The advisor suggested that he call and congratulate Beebe. Malakai thought that was a good idea.

New on the job, David Beebe hit the ground running. His mission is to define a global studio and create captivating entertainment for a distinguished international hotelier with 19 brands and 3,900 properties. He quickly established partnerships, set development deals with new talent, launched productions and welcomed distribution agreements. The Marriott slate is impressive. His most aggressive project to date, a short film "Two Bellmen," has arrived on a tight timetable. By contrast, Irving Thalberg, the Boy Wonder of old Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, had it easy.

With the advent of the Internet, Social Media and Content Marketing, the methods and practices of the advertising industry have flipped like the S.S. Poseidon. Everything is upside-down. The former resources of creative talent are no longer enviable. Media messaging has an entirely new script. Most importantly, the power structure of the distribution and broadcast of a message is no longer an obstacle.

Marriott International has several YouTube channels. And so can you. Beebe says, "A YouTube channel offers a global audience, with multiple languages." Add subtitles, Snapchat, Facebook or Vessel and the world is yours.

In addition to Google's YouTube, "Two Bellman will receive a limited theatrical run, and of course, the hotel rooms," says Beebe.

The Marriott Content Studio has been making content deals with ambitious individuals and enterprising conglomerates.

Naritiv is a venture capitalist's creative wet dream. I liken it to a power strip with a lot of high-voltage cables plugged into it. Backed by Disney and lesser big money, Naritiv is a marketing and analytics platform designed to create content. Naritiv shakes hands with Snapchat. With many partners, Snapchat is the well-heeled photo-messaging platform with a valuation more than God. Plug in Mike Platco, a wacky, arty Snapchat superstar. Plug in Casey Neistat, a smart and edgy filmmaker with 508,801 YouTube subscribers and films with many millions of views. Hit the juice and highly-analytic content for Marriott shall appear.

To call JacksGap a travel vlog is a misnomer. Young Brit Jack Harries is the host and lead filmmaker. His brother Finn is the Chief Designer. The JacksGap team creates very smart and beautifully produced films. Their YouTube channel has 3,983,814 subscribers. JacksGap now has an exclusive development deal with Marriott.

David Beebe is seeking development deals with talent, proven or promising. The young executive says, "We sign them to a six month contract, exclusive for hotels." The hopeful are immersed in the Marriott culture with a swim at the Bethesda, Maryland headquarters. They learn to speak Marriott and then they begin to exchange ideas. Content is beautifully born.

Malakai has always been obsessed with movement and how it can express ideas and story. As a musician, he knows persuasion. His buddy, William Spencer, is a skateboarder and a stuntman. Spencer understands the drama of movement. Their friends are b-boys and b-girls (breakdancers). Other friends, traceurs (parkour), devotees of popping (a street dance) and disciples of tricking (acrobatics), formed an alliance of mind and aesthetics, calling themselves the Kings and Queens. Toss in a handful of musicians, a gaggle of artists and a few filmmakers and you have a crew of fifty. Call it the Art of Movement or call it a party.

Malakai founded Substance Over Hype, an umbrella organization allowing the Kings and Queens to foster their craft. So far, they have produced a few videos, some spots and several live shows for a handful of impressive name brands. Pondering the future, Malakai called David Beebe to congratulate him on his new job. Beebe said, "Let's grab a burger and a beer."

Substance Over Hype had a few ideas for Marriott. A series of live performances would entertain, delight and make great videos. They could shoot a short film, create commercial spots or devise a music campaign. Beebe asked, "What about the short film?"

What about the brand? The JW Marriott hotels are a luxury brand, nestled in 60 capital cities across the globe. The vibe is Mozart and Monet. The clientele is Ambassador and CEO.

Malakai had several ideas for the local JW Marriott Los Angeles LA Live Hotel. Visions of Ocean's Eleven and Mission Impossible flashed through his fertile mind. Movement artist William Spencer loves Buster Keaton and had created a parkour sketch for a bellman. Malakai wanted a concept that would show off the many talents of the Kings and Queens of Substance Over Hype. Dance and comedy are always entertaining to young or old. So is a little parkour.

In the art of Content Marketing, the product, a hotel, has to be a character. Malakai the dramaturg understood that the likeability of a character is fostered when the audience can make an investment in that character. There has to be something compelling to follow and root for, hence a vulnerability. How do you make a hotel vulnerable? From a brand standpoint, should you?

A bellman is usually the first representative of a hotel that a guest will encounter. A bellman is a humble character. Two bellmen can have a story arc that begins with vulnerability and ends with resolution. I mention this because Content Marketing creation is a clever new craft. In the next decade, we shall see the best and worst of it.

Marriott and David Beebe gave Malakai the ole Hollywood "Green Light" on a concept about two bellmen, a short premise with long possibilities. The script took two months to write. With 17 revisions and many conflicting opinions from august authorities, Malakai threw up his hands and approached it like an Artist: he decided to go with his gut.

While creating, Malakai was thinking of the Pink Panthers, the contemporary smash and grab jewel thieves. Malakai's pastiche would grab all of his fancies and stash it into the film. Two Bellmen is a cocktail of music, dance, comedy and Jackie Chan action.

Says Beebe, "Malakai is a passionate storyteller." The script only went one round with Marriott. The Content Studio validated and trusted their talent. Malakai was overwhelmed with their creative generosity and freedom. What else could an artist ask for? Especially when the downtown LA JW Marriott is your toy box.

The film was scheduled to shoot in September, two months after Beebe said, "Write a script!" Life, as it does, decided to reschedule. The father of lead actor William Spencer was dying. Malakai's three-year-old daughter was facing a serious ocular medical issue. Life answered the two struggles inevitably and happily.

The production wrested five days of blood, sweat and tears. Post-production consumed five weeks. The cork has popped and the film, Two Bellmen, stands before the world.

David Beebe is happy. Forward thinking, he feels there may be a series potential. He suggests that "Two Bellmen, Part II" might consume a food and beverage theme. A new hotel casino in Macau may add a gambling plot to "Two Bellmen, Part III."

Marriott's Content Studio is alive and pressing the pedal to the metal. Red Bull will be impressed. For new talent, untested, armed with only a dream and an idea, the world has never been more available and welcoming. It's like having a chocolate tucked under your pillow.

Gordy Grundy is a writer, content creator and publisher. His visual and literary work can be found at