'The shoot required my team to be in full PPE' - Behind the Campaign, with easyJet 'Masks for kids'

Sam Corry, associate director at Taylor Herring, gives the lowdown on the agency's COVID-era campaign for easyJet.

What was the campaign, in a nutshell?

EasyJet has launched new health and safety measures during the COVID-19 crisis, including a requirement for children to wear their own protective face masks while on board.

We needed to take the fear factor out of travel for kids in this strange new COVID world. So, we engaged artist Will Sliney, known for his work on Marvel comics Spider-Man and Star Wars, to create a range of superhero-inspired mask covers for younger flyers.

How did the idea come into being?

As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold easyJet had to ground all flights for 11 weeks. We were tasked to develop a pan-European awareness campaign to reassure passengers that it would be safe to fly again and devise a relaunch strategy to re-establish trust and confidence.

Young families are a huge customer segment for the airline during the peak summer months. However, our research revealed that for many children the unfamiliar spectacle of people in masks on flights could be an intimidating sight, so we needed a creative idea to solve this problem.

The key objective being to help ease the experience for both kids and parents – normalising the necessity for face coverings at the airport and on board.

Our idea was to tap into comic-book adventure and kids’ imaginations by creating some fun face-mask covers that would appeal to younger flyers.

Two unisex Lion and Pilot character-themed designs were developed, which will be given away for free on board and are washable for re-use.

What ideas were rejected?

Before we landed on a comic-book inspired theme we had considered various other artistic routes, including brand partnerships with famous kids' brands, to produce the artwork.

However, with a three-week delivery window for the whole campaign, lengthy negotiations with partners weren't achievable – and thus we turned our attention to the world of superheroes.

Briefly describe the campaign planning and process

The face-mask creative was part of a broader strategy on communicating the airline's bio-security measures across Europe.

Thus we needed to create a versatile tool kit of assets to support markets in France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Portugal. Translations of assets and press materials were developed with local country press office teams.

Our planning was developed in tandem with advice from aviation authorities (ICAO and EASA), as well national authorities and medical advice from the airline’s chief medical adviser.

We also tapped into the expertise at the airline – using cabin crew, pilots, and the bio-safety team.

We enlisted a production supplier to create samples of the mask covers, ensuring all materials met health safety standards. Thousands of kids' face-mask covers are now being shipped to airports around Europe and will be available from the start of the school holidays.

What were the biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

Following Government guidelines, the offices of both easyJet and Taylor Herring were closed during the activation period. Everything had to be researched, developed and created remotely in lockdown.

The shoot itself required my team to be in full PPE, and our shoot day happened to be the hottest day in June. I’m usually in the ear of the director of photography, directing the shots and actors on set, but co-ordinating scene takes while observing social distancing and wearing a face shield was not without its challenges.

How did you measure the results?

The story was covered by every national newspaper in the UK and, following weeks of negative press, easyJet had a positive story to tell.

On the day of launch easyJet saw an uplift in flight searches and an increase in bookings.

The entire bio-security campaign delivered more than 1,000 media articles across UK and Europe.

What's the biggest lesson you took away from the campaign?

During a time of confusing messages from government and public anxiety at an all-time-high, we had to find an entertaining and family-friendly way to engage parents and younger flyers about the importance of wearing face coverings in public spaces.

Humanising the story by pivoting a very serious message into something positive and fun is key to cutting through worries and concerns.

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