A view from Dave Trott:  The Hilton theory of advertising
A view from Dave Trott

A view from Dave Trott: The Hilton theory of advertising

It used to be, when you stayed in a Hilton hotel, you didn't know which country you were in.

Because all Hilton hotels were the same.
The décor, the rooms, the bars, the beds, the staff.
You could be in any Hilton hotel, anywhere in the world.
For some people this was a good thing.
You always knew exactly what you were going to get.
What sort of service to expect, what sort of food, what sort of bathroom facilities.
No surprises.
For other people this is a bad thing.
For exactly the same reasons.
Same old service, same old food, same old bathroom facilities.
No surprises.
You might as well have stayed at in London.
Because the Hilton there was just the same.
So was the one in New York, San Francisco, Paris, Tokyo, Singapore.
Expensive and bland and identical.
If you want to experience the country you’re in, don’t stay in the Hilton.
Or any of the most expensive hotels.
Don’t eat at the most expensive restaurants.
Don’t shop at the most expensive shops.
Because rich people, and rich people’s hotels, are pretty much identical everywhere.
And the same rich shops, Gucci, Rolex, Prada, are in Los Angeles, New York, London, Singapore, Paris, and Tokyo.
If you only go to the rich shops and hotels you’ll never even know what country you’re even in.
The higher up the scale you go, the more international you get.
The lower down the scale you go, the more local you get.
Poor people don’t get so exposed to the way other people do things.
Consequently, poor people do things differently.
Food, clothing, drink, shops, furniture, religion, work.
It seems pretty obvious that richer people travel more.
So they see the best, most expensive things from different countries.
And they can afford the best.
So that’s where they like to stay.
In a collection of the best from different countries, and it’s the same whatever country they’re in.
So the rich have a pretty standard way of living, eating, drinking, dressing, travelling, whatever country they’re in.
In fact, the rich are more international.
And it’s true of advertising.
So, if there is an argument for global advertising, a sort of advertising large multinational agencies do better, it seems to me it would have to be about luxury products.
Products that would appeal to the rich.
Expensive clothes, expensive watches, expensive cars, expensive travel, expensive drink.
All of these seem pretty international.
They’re not subjected to local mass-market tastes.
Simply because local mass-market is not made up mainly of rich people.
It seems to me luxury goods are international.
So they could be advertised by that sort of agency.
Whereas downmarket or mass market goods aren’t like that.
They appeal to people who aren’t in the jet set.
People who live mainly in their own area, amongst their own people.
For them, the goods they want, will be what works and what appeals locally.
Local gossip, local jokes, local sports, local politics, local stories.
So, for those sorts of products, it makes sense to do that sort of advertising.
In which case it makes sense to choose that sort of agency.

The Hilton Theory of Advertising:
The higher you go, the more it’s the same.
The lower you go, the more it’s different.