- Hilton's new campaign starring Anna Kendrick appears to be resonating with young consumers since it debuted on Sept. 28, according to a YouGov Plan & Track analysis shared with Marketing Dive. The number of U.S. consumers age 18 to 34 who recalled viewing the ad over the past two weeks has increased from 10% to 14%. The number of millennials talking about the hotel brand also jumped from 8% to 14%.
- Hilton's Impression score, which YouGov uses to assess the overall positive or negative impression of a brand, was 35 among consumers age 18-34 on Sept. 28. Currently, the score sits at 38 after reaching a high of 42. Purchase consideration for Hilton also increased among millennials. When the Kendrick campaign launched, 27% of younger adults said they would consider staying at a Hilton. The number is now 33%, after reaching a high of 36%.
- YouGov revealed that 24% of surveyed millennials said celebrity endorsements impact their purchase decisions versus 10% of those 35 and older who reported the same. When booking a place to stay for a trip, 28% of consumers age 18-34 said they use online accommodation websites compared to 22% who book directly on a hotel brand site.
The effectiveness of celebrity-led brand campaigns has come under scrutiny in recent years, especially in engaging younger consumers. But Hilton appears to have a winner with the Kendrick-starring "Expect Better. Expect Hilton." A large part of that might have to do with the actor's existing appeal, grown from starring roles in popular movies like the "Pitch Perfect" series, along with how that intersects with the Hilton brand's favorability. Fifty-nine percent of consumers age 18-34 have a positive opinion of Kendrick and 75% of Kendrick's fans in that age group have a positive view of Hilton, according to YouGov.
The new analysis suggests millennials have an overall warmer view of celebrity endorsements than their older peers, which contrasts with previous research. A report by Roth Capital Partners released last year found that 27% of millennials disagreed when asked if they were more likely to make a purchase based on a celebrity endorsement, and 78% either didn't like or were indifferent to such endorsements.
While Kendrick is central to Hilton's campaign, there are other aspects that have potentially bolstered its performance. The "expect better" tagline and touting of the brand's flexibility, perks, better prices and Price Match Guarantee might be resonating with frugal younger travelers. More than half of travelers recently surveyed by the CMO Council's GeoBranding Center and AIG Travel said that deals and discounts inspire them to book trips.
Hilton has also leveraged the creative push to highlight its loyalty programs and position its online booking system above travel sites like Airbnb and Expedia. The YouGov analysis shows that consumers are still opting for third-party travel sites to book accommodations over hotel brands' proprietary offerings. This finding falls in line with recent Adthena research showing that travel sites and search engines were the platforms of choice for travel planners.