In April 2012, Air New Zealand launched its latest campaign offering consumers the opportunity to earn £50 for recommending its luxurious SkyCouch to friends via social media. The campaign was supported by promotional videos produced by agency Albion which feature stars including Kim Kardashian, Lindsay Lohan and David Hasselhoff.
It’s refreshing to find a campaign which uses technology wisely, and Air New Zealand has been clever in its use of video and micro-affiliation techniques to promote its Skycouch seats.
While the videos are interesting, they don’t advertise the product as effectively as they could. They are well made but seem to have been designed with the intention of going viral through social networks, which hasn’t materialised.
The technology behind the campaign is straightforward. Interestingly, users are given a personalised URL to track their recommendations for a monetary incentive; a sensible use of the value exchange. However, the messages which ask users to promote the product are extremely sales-focused, which may discourage them from sharing the messages with their friends.
Furthermore, from a design point of view it's difficult to navigate the page with multiple buttons to post messages. Moreover, there were formatting issues with the ‘TM’ symbol becoming distorted through email - Air New Zealand should carry out extensive tests next time before sending emails to customers!
Air New Zealand is unreservedly upfront in its approach, and Mark Blinder from Adobe summarises it as ‘transparently selfish’. Consumers will be interested if they are offered a £50 incentive, but as it’s already a luxurious way to travel, I would have preferred to see the airline enrich the experience with a gift rather than a discount.
A pleasant campaign, but unlikely to sway an undecided buyer. If the airline’s objective was to increase awareness, they have been successful. However, much like distributing vouchers, the initiative doesn’t encourage users to become brand affiliates.
My first impression of the campaign is that Air New Zealand has missed a great opportunity to collect customer data. The videos which feature celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and David Hasselhoff are entertaining and well produced, but are they delivering meaningful content? By asking people to recommend flights to New Zealand, the campaign may be raising awareness of the company but there seems to be no data collection involved, which is an integral part of any targeted campaign.
The campaign does nothing to build and maintain a relationship with users that are recommending their flights. There’s no real customer interaction either; customers recommend the flights and receive money off, but where is the Value Exchange? A call to action would have been a more effective way of encouraging people to not only recommend the offer, but share their personal information.
The campaign might also have been more successful if it had made more of its Facebook page to collate consumer comments and gather personal information. For example, why not collect more data on customers’ email addresses, demographics and location, and adjust the marketing strategy accordingly?
While the Skycouch is a desirable product and the videos certainly give the campaign a boost, there seems to be no joined-up thinking behind the initiative. Air New Zealand would benefit more from building lasting relationships with customers, something that can only be achieved through the use of a combination of engaging content and insight.
Social media is a powerful tool for reaching a broad audience quickly. Air New Zealand have done well to recognise the power of peer influence; by using fans to spread the message to friends and family it's likely that they’ll generate a better conversion rate than the brand speaking out alone.
Although the foundation is there, the campaign falls short when it comes to the value exchange. The offer of £50 off doesn’t quite ring true; is it really a good enough incentive for people that are already prepared to pay £900 for a flight? Air New Zealand is publicising a premium product so discounting may dampen its appeal within a luxury market.
Air New Zealand is a pioneering brand with the space seat being “the only one like it in the sky”. Although it is apparently the first time that this approach has been trialled in the UK I don’t think it's really appropriate for the brand. I would have preferred to see them do more with the customer, by offering them something new, with an innovative twist of course!
If customers have a positive brand experience they are likely to recommend it, regardless of a monetary incentive. By simply sharing the link with friends on social networks and receiving a discount, the campaign offers limited opportunities to engage customers. Instead the airline should look at creating authentic experiences. People interact with brands because they feel passionate about an end goal, which fosters a greater emotional attachment. A brand-led message would have resonated on a deeper level with people and had greater potential to build a long term relationship.
Ultimately, social media is a great way to build relationships with customers as it helps to bring them closer to the brand by initiating a two-way conversation. Air New Zealand should cut loose from this sales-led approach and interact more with their customers. Talk to them. Share something special.
At first glance, the videos look well produced and the promise of earning money by making recommendations to friends is a fun one. They are slick, something which is to be expected from such a luxurious brand, setting a high standard for the campaign. If you look closer at the campaign, however, the Air New Zealand distribution pages don’t reflect this high standard. The pages lack the cool graphics and sophisticated creative treatment seen in the videos, which disrupts the customer journey.
Creatively, the videos use celebrities such as David Hasselhoff to deliver funny and interesting content. Although the creative execution has been carried out well, the idea at the heart of the campaign lacks substance, as Air New Zealand encourages users to become brand ambassadors but doesn’t give them any further opportunity to engage with the brand.
The campaign encourages people to share recommendations for the SkyCouch before they have even experienced it, so I would have preferred to see the airline provide people with the opportunity to share their views after having experienced the SkyCouch. I would have also liked to have seen more engagement with customers by encouraging them to use social media to talk about their experience after they have had it, not before.
Overall, while the videos have been viewed more than 100,000 times online, there has been no mention of the social response at all, which suggests that the social media element of the campaign was not as successful as anticipated. As an aspirational brand, Air New Zealand should next time look at creating a seamless customer journey that gets people talking about the positive brand experience rather than a money-off promotion.