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Marriott Hotels wins native advertising award with innovative Reddit campaign

Since being established in 1996, The Webby Awards have developed into one of the most prestigious annual ceremonies celebrating excellence on the Internet. Achievements within such fields as Websites, Online Film & Video and Interactive Advertising & Media are honored, and in this post we take a closer look on the presumably very proud winner of The Webby People's Voice Award in the field of native advertising.

Now, the actual award show doesn't take place until May 19th, but the winners were announced last week. So who won the native advertising award, you surely must be thinking at this point?

Marriott Hotels.

The hospitality conglomerate brought home the proverbial bacon with a campaign on Reddit, which was so sophisticated and futuristic at its core that you better watch your step as we try to explain it.

In the fall of 2014, Marriott Hotels began to promote something they called "Virtual Travel Experience". Aided by some very talented virtual effects companies, Marriott Hotels managed to build a simulator-kind-of-thing that allowed people to get teleported. Like in Harry Potter. From one place to another. Just. Like. That. (We hope this screenshot, taken from one of Marriott Hotels' own videos, clarifies the concept better than we ever could).


This, of course, is very fascinating. The idea of teleportation has been haunting mankind like forever, which is probably the reason why this ultimately vague hint at the concept became succesful as native advertising.

Because the next thing Marriott Hotels did was strike a partnership with Reddit, the popular entertainment, social networking AND news website, where it's usually the community members whom create the content.

In this case, however, Marriott Hotels obtained the right to make a sponsored post on Reddit. The gigantic hotel company asked Reddit users to give "sales pitches" in the form of visual and funny content that explained what makes their neighborhoods special. Afterwards, the Reddit community chose the most appealing sales pitch, and the winner was rewarded with a "hometown trip" in the teleporter and a real vacation as well.

This is what Marriott Hotels sponsored posts looked like.



What followed was Reddit users making all kinds of sales pitchy attemps to impress their fellow users and each attempt brought attention to Marriott Hotels. Check this out:



In the end, Marriott Hotels achieved almost 200,000 clicks on its contest page and Reddit's highest ever user-generated content for sponsored posts. And they won an award. So good job on that one, Marriott.

Anders Vinderslev is a trained journalist and former editor and key contributor to the NAI blog. He has, according to himself, produced some of the most thought-provoking and impactful reporting on the state of native advertising. Today he works as a content creator and editor at Brand Movers, but from time to time he will deliver spicy takes on native advertising and sponsored content here at the NAI blog.

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