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?



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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August 22, 2013

Smart Content Marketing: Engaging kids with games + activities, not plastic toys

content writing games for kidsThe summer blockbuster movie season is coming to an end, and it’s time to switch out content marketing themes and characters for I had a fun time copywriting and developing online content, games and activities for this project, and have even spotted kids using their eco-friendly reusable meal bags—the best part of this entire SUBWAY FRESH FIT FOR KIDS™ meal marketing campaign, in my opinion. Sure beats those plastic Happy Meals toys.

copywriting and content for kids

Copywriting Samples

Here’s a link to samples of downloadable activities I developed:
Monsters University: Content + copywriting for SUBWAY Kids™ + Disney/Pixar

copywriting for children

Blog posts: Web content + copywriting for kids, parents + teachers

For more on copywriting and content development programs I’ve worked on for (via the digital brand agency Jack Morton Worldwide), see these blog posts:

Cartoons and Content Marketing: All work and all play
SUBWAY® Restaurants + The Disney Channel’s Phineas and Ferb

Content Marketing + Cause Marketing: Public relations with a purpose
Random Acts of Fitness for Kids™:  SUBWAY® Restaurants + American Heart Association, Little League® Baseball and Softball, We Can!™ (a National Institutes of Health [NIH] program) and other national partners

Earth Day Interactives:
Copywriting with a conscience for corporate clients
SUBWAY® Restaurants + The Nature Conservancy

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July 14, 2013

Cartoons and Content Marketing: All work and all play

content for kids

This was one of my favorite projects in recent memory. Fun because it required sitting around in my pajamas watching several episodes of Phineas and Ferb, one of my longtime favorite cartoons (right up there with Adventure Time and SpongeBob), and fun because it involved brainstorming silly ideas for games and activities and writing catchy copy involving the evil Dr. Doof and his nemesis, Perry the Platypus (a.k.a. Agent P).

Over the past two years I’ve worked on several copywriting and content development projects for SUBWAY® Restaurants and SUBWAY KIDS™. I do this on a freelance basis for the advertising agency Jack Morton Worldwide, through their Boston office. This year’s SUBWAY FRESH FIT FOR KIDS™ meal campaigns with Disney have been especially fun, and I love that they’re giving away free eco-friendly reusable lunch bags with each meal. Each bag comes with a free game or gizmo inside, plus a special code to unlock other downloadable activities from the website.

The Phineas and Ferb kids meals came with a make-your-own wallet kit inside the reusable bag, plus a code to unlock these printable games and activities I developed:

Agent P’s Cipher Code Wheel

online games for kids


Dr. Doof’s Cootie Catcher

content writing for children


and more…

games and activities for kids

I also wrote copy for the Frankenweenie micro-site for SUBWAY KIDS™ and developed content and online games and activities for the new Monsters University FRESH FIT FOR KIDS™ meal, in SUBWAY® Restaurants this month.

Other copywriting and content projects for SUBWAY KIDS™:

Content Writing Samples: Monsters University for

Content Marketing and Cause Marketing: Public relations with a purpose
Writing all online content and collateral material for the Random Acts of Fitness for Kids™ national program for  K–6 schools, 2011–12 and 2012–13 campaigns.

Earth Day Interactives: Copywriting with a conscience for corporate clients
Writing copy and features for online interactive “Ec0-Quest” game as part of marketing promotion with The Nature Conservancy.



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