What’s the ROI on expensive branding or marketing strategies?

My recent post on the emotions I had watching Peninsula’s recent short film raised a lot of questions. Was it worth the investment? Was it a lost opportunity? And what was the ROI?  

First of all, I think that one of the main things that sets apart a great hotel from a good hotel is the experience, and unlike other marketable products, hotel experiences are difficult to communicate with just a list of F&B outlets, rooms, bed types, etc. Hotel brands have to find some way to put the target guest in the middle of the sensory and emotional experience that he or she will have at the hotel. Photos sometimes work, and we’re now seeing more hotels use real people in their photos to have this effect, but film is probably the best way to do this effectively. Having said that, the production quality has to be excellent to pull it off. If you’ve seen other hotel shorts, you might be able to distinguish some of the differences.

Secondly — and this is a general statement — the investment in an exercise like this spreads across a range of marketing outputs if properly orchestrated. Still shots taken during the film will be used in marketing, b-roll will be used in PR, the film can be used for multiple properties across the world, the film can be cut in a variety of ways for use in multiple videos, etc. As a result, the investment is hopefully offset by use for other things that properties would have had to buy anyway.  

The perfect example is this — multiple films using much of the same footage they only paid for once (I hope). 

Lastly, the most valuable asset a luxury hotel has is its brand and brand reputation. Investment in this asset is a long-term investment with a return over several years, not just one. So is an investment like this a wasted expense or a strategic capital investment?