I haven’t noticed Marriott in years. When I think of that hotel chain, my brain goes to airports, insurance conferences and big plastic name tags. And they’re good at those things. But this ad, which is now running globally, disrupted that status quo for me.
The industry analysis on this campaign has been to emphasize the company’s investment in employees and celebrate a heritage of service. As we all know, when employers invest in employees, they feel motivated and committed to the work they do facing guests. But why I like it, apart from the brilliant creative by the New York agency Mother, is that exposing staff members to ballet isn’t just about witnessing culture, poise and grace – it’s about learning to embody those qualities in one’s self – physically applying those concepts and forms. This demands a relationship to your body, an awareness of the expression on your face, the nuance in the curve of a hand, attention to posture at all times – even when no one’s watching. For all the reasons we love watching a ballerina in action – and can spot one on the subway sans tutu – Marriott gifted a legion of employees with movement that feels intentional and precise, because they knew that it wouldn’t just have an impact on how a man carries a tray or the way a meal is presented – but how he is, as a man – or how she is, as a woman.
You don’t have to come to that training with mounds of self-respect / self-esteem / self-knowledge. But what you get out of that training is all of it – without the traditional focus on external service practices, “the booklet” in this case. When you teach people how to own the feeling you want to embody, not just wear a mask that looks like it, they become aware of it across all the roles they play.
You can arrive to your desk everyday, unshowered, in your pajamas with bed-head-bun, or you can get dressed, brush your hair and smell amazing – whether anyone sees you or not. Circumstance – being a waiter, a remote freelancer, a stay-at-home-mom, doesn’t dictate who you are – but how you hold yourself, treat yourself and regard yourself, tells the world everything about how you are. But mostly it tells you.