Marriott International is featuring Latinos in the latest installment of its #LoveTravels social movement campaign via four web videos starring actress Diane Guerrero of Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin fame; actor Diego Boneta, a star in Mexico who plays a lead role in the upcoming Fox series Scream Queens; YouTube sensation Boyce Avenue (the indie band has more than 7 million followers on YouTube); and Taj Reed, director of ad operations for and a contributor to Nylon magazine.
In each of the four clips, which can be accessed on LoveTravelsWithMe.com as well as YouTube, the subjects talk about what they get out of traveling as well as their Latino and American backgrounds, and Guerrero’s reflections are particularly affecting. The actress was the only member of her immediate family who was born in the United States, and when she was 14, her parents and brother were deported to their native Colombia, leaving her in the U.S. to live with family friends in the hopes that she would have a better life here. (Guerrero wrote an op-ed piece about her family being torn apart for the Los Angeles Times last year.)
To this day, her parents and brother remain in Colombia.
“Some people travel for vacation, to get away from it all. I travel to get to it all,” Guerrero says, stressing how special it is to visit her family in Colombia because she doesn’t get to see them often. She also talks about her passion for immigration reform, with non-separation of families being of particular importance to her.
Immigration is a hot topic now because of Donald Trump’s disparaging comments about Mexicans. That said, the release of the Latino-themed iteration of Marriott’s #LoveTravels campaign was not timed to feed off the heated discussion his remarks sparked. “It is absolutely a coincidence,” says Cherilyn Williams, director, portfolio marketing strategy and planning at Marriott International, noting that Marriott partnered with LatinWorks, a cultural branding agency based in Austin, to produce an iteration of the campaign that would focus on Latino travelers well over a year ago when the #LoveTravels campaign launched in 2014.
Then, and now, the goal of the campaign is to have a wide spectrum of travelers present their travel and life experiences and make it known that everyone is welcome at Marriott. “I think it’s really important that as a hospitality company we make our visitors feel comfortable, special and welcome when they’re coming and staying with us, whoever they might be,” Williams says of the decision to celebrate diversity.
You may recall that the first leg of #LoveTravels had members of the LGBT community, including NBA player Jason Collins, who came out in 2013, and transgender model Geena Rocero, sharing their stories. As the campaign evolved last year, the casting went beyond the LGBT community, and soccer star Tim Howard; fashion entrepreneur Angela Simmons; Dutch model Anouschka Dap; and Christoph A. Geiseler, founder of the nonprofit MIMA Music, were featured.
#LoveTravels is aimed at the millennial traveler, though Williams points out, “We feel that our message is universal and can reach across generations.”
What makes the campaign powerful, in Williams’ estimation, is the ability of the people featured in the ads to discuss their backgrounds and life experiences with no filters. “We really wanted to make sure anybody involved in the campaign had the opportunity to tell their real story the way they wanted to tell it so that it is truly authentic,” Williams says.
So while Guerrero talks about her passion for immigration reform, Boneta, who holds passports from Mexico, the U.S., and Spain, discusses being a citizen of the world as well as working in Hollywood. “Being a Latino influences my craft because I have more tools to work with,” Boneta says in his video. “I can play a Hispanic character, and I can play a Caucasian or whatever. It definitely was a challenge at first being able to play both. Now, I feel like people in the states and in this business are seeing it not as a weakness but as a strength.”
From day one, the campaign has also highlighted non-celebrity travelers and encouraged everyday travelers to share their stories through @LoveTravelsWithMe on Facebook and Instagram and @LoveTravelsWMe on Twitter using the hashtag #LoveTravels. “It’s meant to be social. It’s meant to be a movement,” Williams says of the #LoveTravels effort. “We don’t want to just tell the stories of the Tim Howards and Diane Guerreros of the world. We want other people to join the conversation and to jump in and share their stories. We really want people to share with us what their journey is all about and how travel is part of that.”
The #LoveTravels campaign will also make use of photos of Guerrero, Boneta and Boyce Avenue taken by artist and photographer Braden Summers for digital executions, including display banners, and on Marriott’s social media outlets.