Why D.C.’s Marriotts Are Wrapped In Giant Portraits Of LGBT Advocates

The brand realizes it’s attracting good will–and good business–to appeal to an audience with growing market power in the travel sector.

Basketball player Jason Collins, transgender model Geena Rocero, and members of the LGBT community are starring in a new Marriott campaign called #LoveTravels, featuring print and display ads, an online portrait gallery, and most dramatically, building wraps around Marriott hotels in Washington, D.C. With the campaign, Marriott is essentially sending out a homing beacon to the queer community: This is a completely safe space for you to inhabit–and to spend your money.


As gay marriage has been made legal in a growing number of states, gay travelers have felt more comfortable visiting an increasing number of destinations outside traditional ones like San Francisco and Miami. And with an estimated yearly economic impact in the U.S. of $70 billion, LGBT travelers are a valuable segment to attract, according to a recent New York Times feature on the evolving world of gay travel.

“Marriott has had same-sex benefits since 1999, and we wanted to kind of tell the story in a different way,” says Kristine Friend, senior director of segment marketing for Marriott International. “We wanted to tell a story that was very real. We didn’t want to just use models who represent same-sex romance. We chose people who are couples, families.”

Marriott brought in Braden Summers, a photographer whose images have illustrated same-sex romance in cultures around the world, to shoot the #LoveTravels campaign. “I want to show what commercial imagery on a very produced level could like for same-sex couples. It’s important for a company like Marriott to be able to show this in a really large way,” he says.

For Jason Collins, an NBA player with the Brooklyn Nets who came out as gay last year, the campaign was an opportunity to promote equality and inclusiveness. “When I hear the words ‘love travels,’ I think of my family–the family I have, the family I choose. When I travel with them, I want to feel comfortable. This campaign is about making you feel welcome,” he says.


About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.