W Hotels is burnishing its image as the hotel industry's arbiter of hip with recent marketing initiatives that include a branding campaign, lifestyle events and a fashion partnership.

Recent additions to the W culture experience include:

  • The Warmth of Cool branding campaign is the umbrella positioning statement for the company's marketing programs, playing on guests' heightened sense of aspiration. It aims to showcase the brand's ability to be “fashionable but friendly, hip but welcoming, design-driven but comfortable.” Collateral from the campaign pulls the guest in with a series of playful invites. Examples include, for door hangers, “When? Not quite yet.” And for pencils, “Whatcha thinking? Write it down.”

  • W Happenings, the brand's signature series of lifestyle events include everything from film screenings and wine tastings to art previews and celebrity book readings that take place in the hotels.

    Recent W Happenings have included performances by Moby and the Wallflowers, DJ Chef (cooking and DJ classes), An Evening of Luxury (private photos of Jackie Onassis) and knitting sessions.

  • A partnership this fall between W Hotels Worldwide and style icon Diane von Furstenberg, including the creation of exclusive DVF beauty and fashion “emergency kits” for W guestrooms and retail stores. The “emergency survival kit” features a boxed set of mini lip glosses, mascara and perfume from von Furstenberg's signature cosmetics line. The “emergency fashion kit” will feature DVF's classic black wrap dress with matching thong, packaged in a customized garment bag.

The new programs and branding message will be promoted through advertising, direct mail and e-mail messages.

“We don't think of ourselves as a hotel, but as a place,” says Ross Klein, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for W Hotels Worldwide. “We're a place you can experience warmth and cool. Our point of difference from some others in the market is that they are sort of ‘cool and cruel,’ or ‘warm and wimpy.’ The Warmth of Cool expands through all our departments, including operations, planning, real estate group and marketing. It's warm, meaning we will embrace you and be comforting and give you a terrific service product and welcome you as a family member and create a home for you. But it's also cool because we're flirty, we're insider, we're an escape, we have leading design, we have happening things that are exclusive to W that create a sense of discovery or rediscovery for our guests.”

“We try to be trend-right and trend-sensitive but not trend-y,” adds Klein. “I'm very concerned that what we do is on trend, that reflects pop culture, but we don't want to be so trendy that it's intimidating or we date ourselves. We spend a lot of time determining and implementing what's next in technology, in home design, in guest/consumer products, encompassing wellness, music and fashion. We want to be the lifestyle authority on those areas.”

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