HERNDON, VA: Airbus assembled its entire global public relations staff in Toulouse, France to manage Airbus A380 launch event, which had a high media turnout.
"The biggest challenge was that we anticipated 500 media outlets coming from around the world, and [we ended up] getting 1,000," said Mary Anne Greczyn, communications manager for Airbus North America. "About 50% of our RSVPs were received in the last few days."
Greczyn said that up to 100 Airbus PR employees, two from the US office, as well as its global agency, Euro RSCG, were on hand to work with the journalists.
The other challenge, Grecyzn said, was that the security rivaled that of the George W. Bush's inauguration party.
French President Jacques Chirac, Britain Prime Minister Tony Blair, and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder were among the many high profile attendees at the event. In addition, all fourteen corporate customers had their CEOs in attendance, including Virgin's Richard Branson, Fred Smith of FedEx and Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum of Emirates.
Airbus has not yet been able to calculate its media impressions. A press conference was held with the CEO customers, who also held individual press events.
Grecyzn said that the planning for the event had been ongoing for over a year. With a depressed airfare market and news flow focusing on airlines that may potentially fold, the Airbus story was heralded as unique.
"The post 9-11 society is now again comfortable with air travel and the general public is ready to focus on the positives," Grecyzn said. "The opportunity for this plane to bring ticket cost down and offer comfortable accommodation; [the market] hasn't seen that for thirty years."
Grecyzn said that its airline customers are beginning to talk about how they will customizing their Airbuses.
"We get questions from media about what are they're doing," Grecyzn said. "We know which airlines are and we can talk to various press about which airlines are doing the cool things, like casinos, beauty parlors, and showers."