I watched Sully, the new movie chronicling the incredible story of Captain Sullenberger’s heroic landing of a disabled United Airlines plane into the Hudson river, over the weekend.

It’s a good movie. It’s well paced, told from multiple prospectives and has a tight, immersive script. But that’s not why I’m writing.

Here’s what I wished I’d taken away from the movie:

  • Sully’s bravery under insurmountable odds is a reminder to us all that, as a species, we have the ability to do incredible things even when the deck is stacked against us
  • Nobody can fix problems alone – hundreds of people helped once the plane landed in the river, amazingly ensuring not a single person died despite the freezing temperatures, flooding water and unprecedented nature of their situation
  • It’s right to stand up for the truth and make sure your actions are not misinterpreted by having all of the information and facts at your disposal if you are challenged.

Here’s what I actually took away from the movie:

  • Marriott’s new logo from 2014 is magically emblazoned on every hotel, uniform badge and sign despite the fact the rest of the story is very authentically set in 2009 – presumably Sully’s PTSD caused him to re-imagine brand identities.
  • Marriott’s managers work in the middle of the night, and are happy to give airline pilot heroes the whole hotel, if they can.
  • Marriott’s standard rooms are so good, they didn’t feel the need to upgrade Sully to a suite after he saved some 150 people (missed opportunity to advertise the premium product here, Marriott).
  • If your sole purpose for being in New York is for meetings with the safety board, you should definitely stay in a different Marriott to them, in the interest of doubling the number of gratuitous marketing shots of Marriott’s.

There’s even a special behind the scenes version of the trailer, cut with extra views of the Marriott:

This is… sad, really. Full disclosure — I travel a lot (more than 100 nights a year*) so I accept that I might notice this stuff more than some people, but for a movie that is otherwise an authentic beautiful story about the heroism of an incredible man to be so awash with obvious, unauthentic placement cheapens a film that could have otherwise been one of my favourites this year.

Instead, it was an advertisement. It’s product placement gone wrong. Taken too far to the point that it spoils the movie and cheapens the experience.

I just hope this isn’t a sign of things to come.

* My loyalties (and business) primarily lie with Intercontinental Hotel Group

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