42 the movie: A legendary baseball star and a luxury hotel chain?

An unusual marketing partnership for an upcoming film about baseball legend, Jackie Robinson has some wondering -- why?

There's a movie coming out in a couple of weeks that's getting some buzz. Baseball fans will know what it's about as soon as they hear the title: "42."

That's Jackie Robinson's jersey number and the film is in fact about his ground breaking career.

The marketing campaign is already gearing up. And it includes one unexpected promotional tie-in -- with Marriott. The hotel chain's paired up with Warner Brothers to be the film's official hotel partner. And they're giving out free tickets and other enticements to attract minorities to join the Marriott loyalty program.

"There isn't a connection." says Wesley Morris, film critic at Grantland. "I guess Jackie Robinson at some point was on the road a lot when he was playing but I don't think he was staying a Marriott for any number of reasons. That's not a slight against Marriott, it's just the time at the time."

Will it work? Kind of depends on Marriott's end goal. "They have a diversity commitment and they're interested in multiculturalism in the way that all corporations say they are" says Morris. But then again, "I don't know, if you're a black person sitting around if you're like, hey I can go to Marriott now because they like Jackie Robinson." "He's like air, there's nobody that doesn't like Jackie Robinson. I don't know if this is something that would distinguish Marriott from any other corporation."

Warner Brothers has stayed mum on the partnership. And maybe that's part of the problem. "Without anybody saying anything, you're just left to speculate" and "that leads you down these cynical roads."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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