Marriott International and Pay-Per-View

8 Pages Posted: 30 May 2017

See all articles by Andrew Wicks

Andrew Wicks

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Jenny Mead

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Jonathan Neeley

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Abstract

In 2007, J. W. “Bill” Marriott Jr., chairman and CEO of Marriott International, faced criticism from various groups about the fact that the Marriott hotels offered in-room adult entertainment. Because the Marriott family and organization was affiliated with the Mormon Church, which decried pornography, claiming that it was harmful to children, family, and society, critics assailed the company for not being true to Mormon values. In an attempt to make a decision, Bill Jr. reflected on the history of the Marriott Corporation and his family's deep ties to the Mormon Church and community. The company had been founded on his father's strong principles, and Bill Jr. knew that the ultimate decision had to adhere both to these principles and to his responsibility for the corporation's financial stability and the needs of its customers.

Excerpt

UVA-E-0365

Nov. 11, 2011

Marriott International and Pay-Per-View

As he prepared to meet with his board of directors, J. W. “Bill” Marriott Jr., chairman and CEO of Marriott International, looked at the angry letter dated July 18, 2007, that he had just received. In it, Robert Peters, president of Morality in Media, an organization dedicated to opposing pornography, had complained angrily about the fact that Marriott hotels offered in-room adult entertainment. Peters had detailed his chagrin after a recent Marriott stay, when he had discovered this fact. In his letter, he wrote that he would “avoid staying at Marriott Hotels, despite their quality and affordability, because Marriott Hotels is a major distributor of hardcore pornography on its pay-TV channels.” Peters was just one of many critical voices over this issue. Among other conservative groups, Concerned Women for America, the American Decency Association, Focus on the Family, and others had publicly denounced Marriott, claiming that pornography was harmful to children, families, and society. The outcry had become so fierce that the Marriott board of directors had asked for a special meeting with its CEO to discuss what, if anything, the hospitality company management should do to address this issue and fend off a possibly ugly public relations debacle. In preparing for the meeting, Bill Jr. reflected on the history of Marriott and the sometimes unpopular business decisions it had been forced to make.

Marriott and Mormons

Marriott was not the only hotel chain that offered pay-per-view (PPV) adult movies in its rooms; Hilton and Westin hotels, among many others, also did. What made the Marriott situation unique, however, was the company's direct connection to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (also called the LDS Church or the Mormon Church because of its subscription to the Book of Mormon). Marriott's founder, J. Willard Marriott (Bill Sr.), was a devout Mormon. His father had followed Brigham Young west to Utah in the 1850s. His son, Bill Jr., was also prominent in the Mormon Church at the national level, serving in various volunteer leadership positions. The Mormon religion explicitly prohibited pornography, considering its use a violation of a commandment of God.

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Keywords: rthics, business ethics, hotel management, Marriott, Mormon, leadership, stakeholder management, pornography, rights and responsibilities, public relations, reputation management, religion

Suggested Citation

Wicks, Andrew and Mead, Jenny and Neeley, Jonathan, Marriott International and Pay-Per-View. Darden Case No. UVA-E-0365. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2974169

Andrew Wicks (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty/wicks.htm

Jenny Mead

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

Jonathan Neeley

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

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