the sally sisson blog


November 7, 2017

Kicking Up the Creativity in Content Marketing

Airlines that take branded content above and beyond

Digital marketing is soaring in the airline sector, with digital, social, apps and experiential (big time) increasingly added to the mix. A bit over the top in some cases, but it’s proving to be effective as airlines crank up their creative to lure millennials and differentiate their brands in a competitive space.

As a writer, I’m more wowed by words than virtual reality, but recognize there’s value in both. I recently flew on two airlines with notable approaches, one more old-school than the other. Both were on the economy end of the scale, but both provided content-rich experiences that made the experience feel anything but.

Case Study #1: Icelandair

Two years ago I knew two people who’d been to Iceland. This year it’s 20 and counting. Thanks to a brilliant airline marketing campaign, more people than ever are visiting the Nordic island nation, not just jetting over it. Read “How Icelandair’s ‘Stopover Buddy’ Experiential Campaign Boosted Sales by 30%” if you don’t know the backstory.

I did my own mini version of that, taking a 24-hour stopover on a flight from London to Boston—just long enough to wash my cares away while drinking cold beer in a steaming geothermal hot spring at the Blue Lagoon spa, set in a lava field 10 km/6.5 miles from the airport.

So I knew the airline was riding high as a result of this experiential campaign. I just didn’t realize that content played such a prominent role in the overall branding and was pleased to see so much of it sprinkled about.

content marketing airline headrest

Bite-sized content

The first thing I notice upon boarding is the messaging on the headrests. Each cloth has a line of clever copy: snippets that entertain and inform and leave you wanting more.

Then I get to my seat and find a blanket and a pillow, each telling a different part of the bigger story. The design is clean and distinct, making my economy class seat feel more “Scandi sleek” than utilitarian.

 

Fun factoids

Mealtime brings yet more snackable content, with napkins and cups printed with factoids about volcanoes and glaciers and hot springs and other geological wonders. Most include some Icelandic [íslenska] vocabulary to pique interest and get you in practice.

While a translation for “hello, where is the bathroom?” might be useful, this STORKUR steam on my coffee cup is a lot more compelling. The messaging is doing its magic. My in-flight magazine tells tales of geysers, volcanoes and geothermal spas. I learn that Iceland is richer in hot springs and high-temperature activity than any other country in the world. That people have been bathing in these primitive volcanic pools since the days of the Vikings. I’ll be damned if I’m not one of them!

Words and more words

The one at the right shows seven different ways to say cup. At least I think that’s what it is. Or seven different terms for drinking vessel.

I won’t remember more than one, but that’s not really the point, is it?

 

credit: designweek.co.uk

Even the bathrooms are decorated with branded content.

Drip, drip, drip.

I learn something new about Iceland at each touch point. I’m genuinely eager to learn more.

@randfishkin tweet Icelandair

The customer experience

Blue Lagoon, Grindavik

My whirlwind #stopover is an exhilarating success. A bucket-list experience for the books and I return to Reykjavik airport rejuvenated and scrubbed clean with algae and minerals. I pick specs of silica out of my damp hair and stuff my backpack with brochures for my next visit.

On the plane I snuggle up in my (branded) blanket, ready to bliss out. I rest my head on my lullaby pillow and watch the “Northern Lights”—mesmerizing mood lighting beamed from the ceiling and side screens lining the cabin. This might be the closest thing to hygge I’ll ever find at 35,000 feet. A satisfying customer experience indeed.

HYGGE (pronounced “HUE-gah”) is a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.

 

Bilingual Lullaby Pillow

Bye bye and hushabye,
Can you see the swans fly?
Now half asleep in bed I lie,
Awake with half an eye.
Hey and welladay,
Over hills and far away,
That’s where the little children stray
To find the lambs at play.

– An Icelandic Lullaby

 

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February 8, 2013

Snow Fall: An exceptional piece of interactive multimedia journalism

Interactive multimedia content

Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek, by John Branch

Captivating.

This is one of the most impressive interactive news stories I’ve seen. Click the picture above and experience it for yourself. Grab a cup of hot chocolate and watch the whole thing. Trust me, it’s that well done.

Behind the scenes.

It took more than 11 staffers at the New York Times more than six months to complete. One can only imagine the budget. To learn how this interactive news story was made, read this Q & A with the graphics director, multimedia producer, video journalist and editor who worked on the project:

How We Made Snowfall:
A Q & A with the New York Times team

“The New York Times’ astonishing Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek, launched in the final days of 2012, capped a year of extraordinary work in interactive journalism, both at the Times and in newsrooms around the world. In the six days after Snow Fall’s launch on December 20th, 2012, it had received more than 3.5 million page views and 2.9 million visitors, nearly a third of whom were new visitors to the Times website.”

Disclaimer from an armchair reporter

I am neither an adventurous skiier, nor an adventurous sports person of any sort. But as a young girl I spent many weekends on the bunny slope at Stevens Pass, the setting of this story. I remember stories of my older brothers skiing at Seventh Heaven, as well as stories about my dad almost dying while climbing Mount Rainier.

My family moved from Seattle to Boston when I was five years old, and I spent occasional winter weekends on intermediate slopes while friends raced down black diamonds.

But I admire great storytelling and was quickly drawn in by this piece. I am excited to see what this team, and others like it, come up with next.

Best wrap-up I’ve read

The Atlantic: ‘Snow Fall’ Isn’t the Future of Journalism
Journalists will continue to find more options and build more tools to astonish us. Stuff like this will get better and better and slightly more frequent, one hopes. But it won’t become, generally speaking, frequent….

Give “Snow Fall” the respect it deserves. It doesn’t need to bear the augury of “journalism of the future.” It’s just a rare and sensational gift for readers in the present. That’s quite enough.

 

 

 

 

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November 12, 2012

Online content and social media promote healthy school, community and corporate partnerships

The Energy Balance 101: Enrichment Zone web content I developed last spring for the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation is now live on TogetherCounts.com, and I’m excited to see kids already participating in these first weeks of September.

Developed to complement the existing standards-based Energy Balance 101 curriculum for grades K-5, the Enrichment Zone is a flexible program designed for after-school programs, clubs and community organizations across the country.

I’ve had a hard time explaining to people what it is, who it’s for and who’s behind it, so here’s the skinny:

HWCF + Together Counts!

What is the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation? It is a CEO-led coalition of over 200 organizations working together to help families and schools reduce obesity – especially childhood obesity – by 2015. With corporate heads from General Mills, Inc., Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.; Kraft Foods and Kellogg’s; Anytime Fitness and Sports Authority;  Hershey, Nestlé and Mars at the table, the impact is significant.

How is Michelle Obama involved? In May 2010 the First Lady, founder of initiatives like Let’s Move! and Partnership for a Healthier America, announced with HWCF companies their pledge to reduce 1.5 trillion calories annually by the end of 2015. These changes are being made through new lower-calorie options, reduced calorie content of current products, and reduced portion sizes of existing single-serving products.

HWCF + Discovery Education

Next the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation set its sight on the nation’s elementary schools. Developed in partnership with Discovery Education, the Energy Balance 101 program provides schools with a free online K-5 curriculum and resources to help kids lead healthier, more active lifestyles.

Energy Balance 101 Discovery Education Building on the success of its program in the schools, EB 101 began extending its reach to the home and out in the community. Fueled by a successful brand and social media campaign, the TogetherCounts movement has a wide following (and 12,000 followers on Twitter!). Check out this cute and super-quick Together Counts! animation to get what the movement what it’s all about:

Together Counts

Watch: What is Together Counts?

The next phase is underway. HWCF is rolling out programs and activities for kids, parents, families and community groups outside of school. Here’s where I come in. The Energy Balance 101: Enrichment Zone is now being used by after-school teachers, Girl Scout leaders, parents… pretty much anyone interested. More flexible than the in-school curriculum, it is modular in format to suite a range of programs and schedules.

The lessons and activities incorporate and reinforce Energy Balance 101 concepts; promote physical activity after school and on weekends; and inspire students to make healthy choices and be mindful of their daily Energy Balance for life.

Organizations like the following have already signed on as Enrichment Zone partners:

    • Girl Scouts of the U.S.A.
    • U.S. Soccer Foundation
    • National Recreation and Park Association
    • K. Kellogg Foundation
    • Gen Youth Foundation
    • Paul Pierce’s The Truth onHealth
    • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Together Counts!

Although separated into different web sites last year, all of the above can now be found in one place: TogetherCounts.com.

Here you’ll find interactive features and active social media channels for schools, homes and community organizations. It’s a fun way to track who’s doing what in K-5 schools across the country.

Check out the blogs, tweets and posts from schools and organizations already actively participating. I’ll be helping out with a pilot after-school program at Inly School in Scituate, MA and will blogging about the experience along the way. I’ll keep you posted!

Links and Resources:

Michelle Obama’s speech at the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation partnership announcement

Mars Candy And Michelle Obama Are Making Candy Bars Smaller — And Twitter Is FREAKING Out

 

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