Air New Zealand puts stars on the couch to build awareness

Looking to build global awareness of its flight offerings among business and leisure travelers, Air New Zealand's communications team created Rico, an airline mascot, and built out a series of campaigns involving social media and viral videos.

Client: Air New Zealand
PR agency: Fingerprint Communications
Campaign: On the SkyCouch with Rico
Duration: June 2011-present

Looking to build global awareness of its flight offerings among business and leisure travelers, Air New Zealand's communications team created Rico, an airline mascot, and built out a series of campaigns involving social media and viral videos.

"Social media plays a significant part in our campaign activities," says Jodi Williams, head of international marketing at the airline. "With limited budgets, we need big ideas to make us stand out."

Strategy
To drive awareness for the airline and its new SkyCouch product, the team developed a Web video series with Rico as a talk-show host interviewing celebrities, including Lindsay Lohan, David Hasselhoff, and Giuliana Rancic, while sitting on the SkyCouch.

"It's a challenge trying to get a product message through in a piece of content, but not in a really overt way," says Williams. "You must also find that right balance between finding and creating content that people will find funny and pass on."

Tactics
"We multilayered this campaign to not just target digital or radio," says Jessica Meisels, president and founder of Fingerprint Com-munications. "This was a cross- pollination across the board."

In addition to its own media relations and social media tactics, the team encouraged the celebrities to tweet and post Facebook messages about their experience on the SkyCouch with Rico.

Results
Each video launch led to cover- age from outlets including TMZ, Forbes.com, HuffingtonPost. com, gawker.com, mashable.com, and Chelsea Lately.

The airline reported 450,000 views of the Hasselhoff video, 400,000 views of the Lohan video, and a significant increase in attention on Facebook.

"Air New Zealand is the fourth highest of all global air-lines, with the most amount of Facebook likes," notes Meisels.

Future
Air New Zealand's communications team continues to develop creative efforts involving Rico.

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