Top airlines use Christmas holidays to connect with customers

There’s no doubt that 2014 has been the year of the charity campaign.

From Macmillan’s reactive tube strike tweets to SOS Children’s Villages’ video, and every hashtag in between, it’s embraced smart PR with open arms. But, before I dish out any awards for creativity, it seems there’s a new challenger in town – the airline industry.

In the run up to Christmas, airports and airline companies have stepped up their game and launched a range of festive campaigns to remind passengers that, at this time of year especially, ‘home is where the heart is’.

Here’s a selection of the good, the bad and the ugly:

Oscar potential

Air Canada’s #ACGiftOfHome
A group of Air Canada pilots dropped by the Maple Leaf bar in London, where many Canadians go for a taste of home. Talking to the punters, they asked what they had planned over the holidays and discussed the reasons they weren’t heading back home.

Then, the pilots surprised the guests by offering everyone a free round – that is a round trip home over Christmas of course!

The celebrations, and initial disbelief, was captured on camera to promote the campaign. It’s a natural, soft sell approach with a great message:

Each year Air Canada brings thousands of Canadians home for the holidays. This year we wanted to bring a few more.

Oh, and did I mention it’s generated over 3.2m YouTube views and almost 2,000 Twitter hashtag mentions in less than a month? Take note – this approach works.

Oscar nomination

Virgin Atlantic’s #FestiveFlights
Virgin has announced via Facebook that it’s giving away 30,000 Santa hats to customers over the Christmas holidays, giving them the chance to win special prizes, including flights for their favourite person.

A quick check reveals that the campaign hashtag has generated over 100 mentions in less than a day – an achievement which London City Airport hasn’t managed to surpass in two weeks (see below). So, it’s clear to see that, thanks to the brand’s established social media presence, this campaign has wings.

News just in: Virgin’s #FestiveFlights surprise was revealed last night on a flight to Boston, where passengers were treated to a visit from Santa. Using digital technology from Microsoft, the roof disappeared to reveal Santa and Rudolph peering into the plane. Santa then came through the door and treated people to presents.

It’s an exciting PR stunt and impressive work that the airline has managed to release a video to its 372,000 Facebook fans so quickly.

Quiet cinema release

City Airport’s #AcrossTheMiles
Heathrow’s poor relation installed a themed video booth for passengers to record personal messages for their loved ones this Christmas. The messages were then uploaded onto the internet to be shared across a range of social media channels.

Nice idea, but the YouTube video is weaker than my forearms after an intense gym sess. It’s too long, it’s dull and with less than 8,000 views, I’ve proved my point.

Leave the room for 4mins 45secs now.

Straight to DVD

British Airways’ #FlyBA2015
BA, once king of the sky, has launched a ‘thank-you’ campaign to show its appreciation to its customers.

Using images sent in by passengers, it’s created a short video which is being cascaded across its social media channels and shown as part of its in-flight entertainment package.

After watching I feel less fussed about BA than when I started and feel notably embarrassed for content marketing agency Cedar who had a hand in this monstrosity. I hope for their sake BA was tightfisted with no money to spend because, as a potential client, this video doesn’t fill me with confidence.

It’s only of interest to those who submitted the images, making it a redundant pre-curser to the airline’s competition mechanic.

What do you think? Have you noticed some flyaway campaigns while on your travels, or are they just nosediving straight past you?


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