AirAsia books Zeno Group as first US-based PR AOR

The AirAsia X line will begin servicing a route from Hawaii to Malaysia through Japan this month.

NEW YORK: AirAsia has brought on Zeno Group as its first U.S.-based PR AOR as it prepares for its entry into the stateside market this month.

Zeno will work with the AirAsia global PR and communications team to establish the brand as a leader in long-haul, budget aviation with the U.S. audience. AirAsia X, which is based in Malaysia and is a sister company of AirAsia, will begin flights between Malaysia and Honolulu through Osaka, Japan, on June 28.

Zeno will lead consumer and corporate communications, including earned media and influencer engagement, as well as raising visibility and awareness of AirAsia’s leadership team.

Zeno will target travel enthusiasts, including millennials who are looking to "dive deep into cultural experiences and invest their time and money into the destination and are therefore attracted to affordable air-travel options," said Thomas Bunn, MD of Zeno Group New York.

The agency has managed the launch announcement about AirAsia X's U.S. route and secured speaking and panel opportunities for AirAsia cofounder and CEO Tony Fernandes at the Milken Institute Global Conference 2017, which ran from April 30 to May 3. Zeno also introduced the brand to Los Angeles-based travel and lifestyle influencers at an editors’ event in May.

"AirAsia X hopes to raise awareness and consumer interest in its services by and between the U.S. and Southeast Asia," Audrey Progastama Petriny, AirAsia’s group head of communications, said via email. "The company is proud of its special blend of customer service, in-flight amenities, and value pricing and hopes to expose more travelers to the beauty of the ASEAN market." 

The airline selected Zeno following an RFP process that began last August; three firms pitched. Zeno began working with AirAsia last month.

"We chose Zeno due to its ability to translate our objectives into creative ideas," Progastama Petriny said. "They had ideas we were excited about."

Cheryl Overton, Zeno’s EVP and head of consumer, is leading a team of seven staffers from its consumer, corporate, and media units on the account.

"[AirAsia] needed a creative partner to tell its story and build its brand in the U.S. market," said Bunn. "They are known as a really bold and creative marketer in Asia, so it is exciting to work with them."

AirAsia X serves 22 destinations across Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the Middle East. The airline has carried more than 19 million customers since launching in 2007, according to a release.

This story was updated on June 8 with additional information and quotes from Bunn.

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