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Haven’t your heard? Marketing is super important, especially in the competitive airline industry where there is an abundance of similar companies vying for similar customers. Yes, content marketing for airlines often includes website content, blogs, apps, and social media to engage customers, build loyalty, and promote new routes and benefits; but nowadays, airlines are also aiming to create viral campaigns (usually though viral videos, social media stunts, or contests) to generate buzz.

In this post, we show you 5 of the best airline marketing campaigns and explain why they worked so well.

2013

WestJet - Christmas Miracle

In December 2013, Canadian airline WestJet set up a digital kiosk at departure gates in Toronto and Hamilton airports. There, Santa Claus appeared on screen, asking travellers what they wanted for Christmas. As the passengers flew to their destination, WestJet employees scrambled behind the scenes to purchase and wrap gifts.

The resulting Christmas Miracle campaign video shows highlights from the event, including travellers’ reactions when they open the gifts bearing their names on the luggage carousel. Tears, smiles, and hugs ensued – and the video has generated more than 44 million views on YouTube and 13,000 Facebook likes. Due to enormous success, WestJet ran its Christmas campaign in 2014 (Spirit of Giving) and 2015 (12,00 Mini-Miracles) and continued to engage clients (and the marketing world).

Why It Works: On its own, the idea of surprising travellers with big-screen TVs, tickets home for the holidays, and even socks and underwear (requested by at least one practical traveller) is sure to generate at least a modicum of brand loyalty. But by creating and sharing a video of the experiment, along with using the branded hashtag #westjetchristmas, the airline was able to share the feeling of good will and sheer happiness with the world.

2014

Icelandair - Iceland Stopover #MyStopover

Icelandair’s Stopover program allows passengers to visit Iceland for up to 7 days with no additional fees when traveling to 23 destinations in Europe and 21 destinations in North America. To promote this feature, the airline launched a multifaceted content marketing campaign. The promo included a contest, promoted on Icelandair’s website and coordinated across social media. The winners received a 48-hour stopover and a personal guide to show them around. The journey was captured on video and shared on social media.

Using the hashtag #MyStopover, Icelandair encourages travellers to share their stopover experiences. Followers are still contributing content to the campaign, with Icelandair regularly re-tweeting and re-posting.

Why It Works: The Stopover campaign combines an intriguing concept (what does Iceland have to offer?), an incentive (entering a contest), and follower engagement (a campaign-branded hashtag and user-generated content). By mining user experiences, the carrier created loads of useful content on sights, lodging, food, and more. And the ongoing use of the branded hashtag drives content contributed by the very people an airline wants championing its brand – loyal travellers.

2015

Emirates – #HelloJetMan

This Emirates campaign revolved around the date of the 2015 Dubai Air Show, a conference that brings together aerospace and aviation professionals and puts on one of the world’s largest air shows. Their #HelloJetMan campaign was a beautifully-crafted video that saw two men flying in jetpacks right next to an A380 Emirates plane, creating hype in the days leading up to the air show. It established that Emirates is one of the breakout stars of the airline industry.

 

Why It Works: Emirates worked strategically around an event centered on aerospace and aviation experts, professionals, and investors. The #HelloJetMan campaign was daring in its technicalities and breathtaking on video, captivating an audience of airline professionals that aren’t easily impressed. Not only did they create hype around their campaign through the original video, they kept the momentum going with a behind the scenes video on how they pulled off the stunt.

 

2016

Jet Blue – Reach Across the Aisle

For those who don’t remember, 2016 marked the election year face-off between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. It was a highly charged environment from both political parties and a distressing time in American politics. No-one could agree on anything, from the politicians all the way down to family members.

Most brands wanted to stay away from this charged situation. Instead, Jet Blue created their “Reach Across the Aisle” campaign, which saw a plane full of passengers have to agree upon a single destination in order to receive free round-trip tickets. The campaign was based around harmony and unity, aiming to inject some positivity into people’s lives and build an emotional bond with passengers.

Why It Works: The first thing that works for this campaign is its timeliness. During almost any other election year in America, this campaign would not have made sense. It is also light-hearted, and creates a sense of curiosity in the viewer, as well as an emotional connection when you see all the passengers working together. While the theme is political, the airline doesn’t take sides, instead coming out as a positive influence during a negative, chaotic time.

 

2017 & 2018

British Airways’ - Safety Videos

There are a lot of airline safety videos out there, and most of them are boring. Some have gotten pretty creative over the years, but none have involved more A-list celebrities than British Airways’ 2017 Safety Video campaign. The 2017 version is a fake casting for an airline safety video, with “auditions” from huge stars like Ian KcKellen, Gordon Ramsay, Thandie Newton, Gillian Anderson, and of course, Mr. Bean. It went viral and has over 12 million views to date. It achieved so much success, that they actually came out with a sequel one year later. The 2018 Safety Video includes Michael Caine, Naomie Harris, Olivia Coleman, Jourdan Dunn, and more.

Why It Works: British Airways picked up on the viral video trend at exactly the right moment. With more people than ever browsing YouTube and watching Facebook and Instagram videos, a viral video can make or break a campaign. They employed typical British humour which works for their brand and made their airline affectionate in the hearts of viewers and passengers. The videos remind you why you always love flying with British Airways.

There have certainly been a lot of airline marketing campaigns within the past 5 years. With the industry getting more and more competitive, we are sure to see a lot of creative campaigns from airlines now and in the future.