Mitchell International takes its marketing to the skies

Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) offers travelers in Northern Illinois an alternative to Chicago's O'Hare Airport, which can sometimes be expensive to use and less convenient to reach.

Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) offers travelers in Northern Illinois an alternative to Chicago's O'Hare Airport, which can sometimes be expensive to use and less convenient to reach.

To make area business travelers more aware of MKE, the airport and its PR agencies designed a skywriting campaign to spread the word through both traditional and new media.

Strategy
The MKE team decided an event held at a gathering of its target audience – high-income, male business travelers – would best create the mainstream media and viral marketing buzz needed to attract new interest, says Amy Wood, MD at Harvest PR.

The event needed to have a connection with the brand and lure visitors to the MKE Web site flyMKE.com.

Tactics

The team arranged for a skywriter to promote a virtual skywriting site – skymailme.com – four times during the course of two days over the skies of Chicago, including during one of the biggest local sporting events of the year, the White Sox-Cubs game, at which MKE held a local media party at Wrigley Field. Visitors to the site could create their own virtual skywriting to send to friends and also incidentally promote the main MKE site.

“We wanted to target business travelers, and specifically men, and figured a ball game would be a perfect way to reach them,” Wood says.

Results
Since the launch, nearly 16,000 people have visited the skymailme.com and flyMKE.com sites to create “skymail” messages or compare fares, Wood says. Also, the number of Illinois license plates counted at MKE is up 29.3%.

“It was a campaign that really caught the imagination of our target audience and broke through the clutter,” says Patricia Rowe, marketing director at MKE.

Future
MKE has yet to plan its next promotional campaign.

PR team: General Mitchell Inter-national Airport (Milwaukee), Weiss & Co. (Milwaukee), and Harvest PR & Marketing (Portland, OR)

Campaign:
Fly Smart. FlyMKE.com

Duration:
June 21-22, 2008

Budget:
$65,000

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