Friday, July 09, 2004

Who left the light on? 

Have you heard a Motel 6 commercial recently? They've been catching my attention this past week. They start out the way they have for years--the fiddle music swells and the folksy tones of Tom Bodett comes on with some topic that he hooks into the plain but comfortable amenities of Motel 6. It's a great campaign. I almost always suspend disbelief and think of ol' Tom is just a simple, local hotel owner offering high quality, personal service to the weary travelers out there. (Of course, I've never stayed at Motel 6. But I always include it in the list of places I check when pricing a hotel room. Unfortunately, I usually find something cheaper or more convenient to whatever I'm visiting.) But this past week, I've noticed that at the end of the commercials, Tom has taken to saying "An Accor hotel." For me, this blows the whole illusion. He might as well say, "By the way, I'm just a paid spokesmen for a national corporation."

I don't get it. I mean, I understand one business acquiring another. And I understand the whole branding thing, how a corporation will preserve the old name of an acquisition so as not to scare off its current customers. But this seems to defeat the purpose. If you want to keep marketing Motel 6 as its old, inexpensive self, then do so. But don't go sneaking the corporate name in there. If you want to "rebrand" the company and create jobs for design and printing people, then do that instead. Have a big party, throw around some big advertising bucks and let Tom Bodett start talking about Accor hotels' "clean, comfortable rooms." The way you're doing it now bugs me.