American Airlines shoots to score with Hispanic travelers

American Airlines is working to interact with Hispanic consumers through various online strategies in 2009.

Company: American Airlines
PR agency: Axis Agency
Campaign: The Penalty Challenge
Duration: September 24-December 31

American Airlines is working to interact with Hispanic consumers through various online strategies in 2009. One such tactic is "The Penalty Challenge," which allows consumers to play an online soccer game and earn AAdvantage miles and the chance for ticket discounts.

Strategy
AA wanted to get Hispanic consumers more comfortable interacting with the company online, says Billy Sanez, corporate communications director.

"Hispanic customers are used to going to travel agencies and having a longer dialogue before they buy a plane ticket," he explains. "So we want to make sure we're in that longer dialogue online."

The message is promoting AA's "involvement with the Hispanic community and continued commitment to it," says Ana Barrera Waggoner, group manager for Axis Agency, AA's Hispanic PR AOR. Additionally, she notes, it promoted the company's relationship with Major League Soccer.

Tactics
The PR team conducted media outreach to both English- and Spanish-language outlets, as well as travel publications. Twitter and Facebook were among the sites used to build buzz about the game.

The Penalty Challenge itself is also viral, allowing players to send to friends and share their scores, a big part of spreading the word, Sanez says.

Results
Media hits have included the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Hispanic Market Weekly, and TravelPulse.com. As of October 21, more than 9,000 consumers registered and played the game.

"The results have allowed us to see the consumption pattern by fans of American and fans of soccer, and how they want us to interact with them," Sanez adds.

Future
American plans to leverage the continued popularity of soccer, particularly around the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

"We'll look at how we can expand [The Penalty Challenge] to other areas or how we can add an additional version to it for the future," says Sanez.

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