The Best Of: Airline PR Stunts

17th March 2017

Sibilla FoxtonWritten by Sibilla Foxton.

In recent years there have been a plethora of airlines creating brilliant PR stunts; from WOW Air’s Tinder account to Jet Blue’s FlyBabies, there is so much opportunity for airline brands to get creative with their experiential activations and content. So please take your seat and fasten your seat belt, we hope you enjoy today’s blog post on airline marketing stunts.

One hero of stunt marketing in this space has to be Dutch airline KLM. Not only do they come up with award winning campaigns and fantastic content off the back of these, but they are also brilliant at social media marketing and customer service through their social channels.

Back in 2010 KLM used Foursquare and Twitter to get to know several of their passengers before presenting them with personalised gifts. KLM Surprise was simple, effective, made for good content, and ensured they would be talked about positively on social.

One year later saw the Fly2Miami campaign born off the back of one disappointed Tweet; the airline challenged a Dutch DJ to fill 150 spaces on a non-existent flight from Amsterdam to Miami. He did – in less than five hours incredibly – and KLM supported the flight with live DJ sets, goodie bags and cocktails on board for passengers. A great example of a brand using their social channels proactively to develop a timely campaign.

Most recently, KLM used the Christmas period as a heart-warming opportunity to bring people together with their Bonding Buffet. Again a simple concept; a circle of chairs surround a table raised into the air. Each time a person took a seat, the table was lowered, until eventually a full table of strangers were able to share a festive feast. Their Facebook video now has an amazing 53 million views and 34k comments in just over two months.

Another brand utilising the spirit of Christmas through their stunt marketing is Canadian airline WestJet. Their annual Christmas Miracle activity has been surprising families since 2012, creating some heartfelt content and positive publicity.

Moving away from surprise and delight situations, kudos to Air New Zealand who have managed to inject humour and wit into their brand personality. From their safety video series, many of which have had millions of online views, to their ongoing banter with Australian airline Qantas, the airline is agile and quick to jump on a good story. A particular favourite was their reaction to Qantas CEO Alan Joyce’s positive comments about Air New Zealand in a press conference. Taking these comments and creating a whole campaign within a week, giving Joyce frequent flyer membership, was incredibly speedy, smart, and funny with some ‘I can’t believe they did that’ thrown in for good measure.

And finally, while not an airline, Heineken’s Departure Roulette is worth a mention as an airport focussed stunt. What would you do if you went to the airport and someone offered you a chance for a FREE trip to a randomly chosen destination that is more adventurous than yours? A piece of content that is sure to make you smile, likely achieved on a relatively small budget.

We can see that the airline marketing stunts trend is very much focussed on surprise and delight situations to capture genuine reactions, and to produce punchy content off the back of these experiences. However it also pays to have an agile marketing and social media team who can react quickly to come up with smart and opportune campaigns. We’re sure we will continue to see smart PR stunts come out of this (air)space, thank you for joining us on this trip and we are looking forward to seeing you on board again in the near future.