Why an all-female Delta crew flew 120 girls to NASA

Inside Delta's initiative to close the gender gap in the aviation industry.

Company: Delta Air Lines
Campaign: WING Flight
Agency partner: Weber Shandwick 
Duration: October 5, 2019

In honor of International Girls in Aviation Day, a Delta Air Lines flight, planned and executed entirely by women, from the pilots to the ramp agents, took off last month from Salt Lake City, Utah. The plane was carrying 120 girls, all headed to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Strategy
Men significantly outnumber women in the aviation industry, a gap that exists in many STEM fields. There are a dizzying number of reasons for this, including a lack of representation: it can be difficult for girls to envision growing up to be a pilot when "they might never have seen a female pilot before," said Emma Kate Protis, Delta’s senior coordinator of corporate communications.

The campaign’s central goal was to change this dynamic by showcasing female representation "from the women flying the airplane to the scientists on the ground," Protis said. The students on the flight, who ranged in age from 12 to 18, are at a critical point in their lives; many are starting to think about the career paths they’d like to pursue after school. 

Tactics
To maximize the campaign’s reach, Delta partnered with the Today show. Planning between the two companies began in March 2019. NBC’s Natalie Morales joined the crew and students on October 5 to cover the flight, which aired in an exclusive segment on the morning show.

In the days leading up to the Today show segment, Delta sent reporters at other outlets a press release and additional assets under embargo. These included a selfie taken by one of the pilots, which featured the all-female crew and their 120 passengers. 

Delta promoted the campaign on its own social channels, as did the Today show. 

For the most part, the company relied on an organic social media approach, trusting that the publications that wrote about the flight would share the story on their own platforms.

Results
In addition to the Today show, the campaign generated more than 420 earned media stories, including coverage in People, USA Today, Forbes, CBS News, and CNN Travel, and more than 200 local U.S. broadcast mentions. Most outlets based their story directly on media assets and the press release, which was viewed 9,800 and 1,700 times on the Delta News Hub and Apple News, respectively.

From October 6-14 on Twitter, the campaign generated 4,700 public social media posts, and nearly 500,000 total shares of earned media articles.

After the campaign, numerous organizations, including Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., reached out about potential future partnerships. 

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