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Entertainment News

Sunday, 16 August, 2009 12:34 PM

Red Roof Inn Connects with Country (CMA)

Courtesy of Rink Entertainment

Promotional collateral for Red Roof Loves Country.

 

Photo courtesy of Rink Entertainment

Phil Vassar surprises fans Tim and Janice Gustafson with private concert at Red Roof Inn.

By Bob Doerschuk
© 2009 CMA Close Up News Service

Several years ago, seeking a better insight into their customer base, Red Roof Inn assigned its public relations and marketing partner, Florida-based Hill & Knowlton/SAMCOR, to look into the subject.

The results of the investigation were clear. "The Red Roof Inn customer is 'gray-collar,' not quite white- or blue-collar," said Jim Rink, President, Rink Entertainment. "They don't need to spend a lot of money. They don't care about frills. And their passion lifestyle experience is dead on target with two areas: NASCAR and Country Music."

This was the picture the company gave to Rink along with an assignment to create a media campaign based on that commitment to Country. As producer of GAC's "GAC Short Cuts Series," which helped catapult Taylor Swift at 15 into the spotlight, he knew the strength of the artist/fan bond. This became the basis of a series of Webisodes created by Rink Entertainment, with a goal of tapping into and extending that bond to the economy hotel chain.

Because Country fans were already responsive to that brand, the campaign grew from a solid foundation. Rink reasoned that multiple artists from various record labels should serve as brand ambassadors. Not only did Phil Vassar, Whitney Duncan and Little Big Town fit that bill, but GAC also engaged KingBilly, whose experiences as a fast-rising band were chronicled by the network's reality series "Who Is KingBilly."

Several themes wove through these Webisodes, posted at www.RedRoofLovesCountry.com within the www.GACtv.com Web site and aired on GAC. These involved real-life fans, whose stories reflect some element of the artist's latest work or views of life. For example, Vassar's dedication to the military tied into an anniversary trip for a soldier and his wife to Nashville, where he surprised them with a private concert in the Red Roof Inn lobby as they emerged from their room.

Webisodes, photo galleries, promotions and contests as well as TV commercials and print ads are all part of the Red Roof Loves Country Road Trips campaign, which awards thousands of prizes.

"All of us look for new ways to get our artists in front of people," said Greg Hill, President, GHM/Red Light Management. "I'd already been talking with several hotels about doing partnerships, but Red Roof was actually willing to print up cards with information about Phil and place them on pillows for everybody who checked in - and that's tens of thousands of people each week."

The benefits come back to Red Roof too, as they post links to the hotels nearest to stops on each artist's tour just below the Webisode screen. "We measure the campaign's impact in multiple ways," said Marina MacDonald, VP, Sales and Marketing, Red Roof Inn. "We know how many unique visitors we're getting. There's click-through to book rooms. At the end of the day, we look at whether distribution is going up on www.RedRoof.com. And it is."

On the Web: www.RedRoofLovesCountry.com

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