Flight Centre: award winning case study

29 Sep 2014

The issue

In February 2014, Flight Centre executed an above-the-line campaign targeting Australians aged 24 to 55 under the umbrella theme: “We love UK & Ireland”.

Komosion was engaged through a competitive pitch process to work with Flight Centre to extend its above-the-line campaign into its social channels, in particular Facebook. At the time, Flight Centre Australia had 375,000 Facebook fans – an extremely leveragable, “owned” asset.

Flight Centre had built its Facebook audience despite allocating what it described as a relatively insignificant social budget and priority to social channels.

It decided to embark on some test-and-learn activity, allocating $70,000 to social investment to support its above-the-line: “We love UK & Ireland” promotion.

Its goals included to:
  • Grow Facebook likes and reach
  • Support messaging in above-the-line campaign
  • Educate the Australian travelling community on UK & Ireland destinations

The target audience was people aged 18-54 with an interest in, or connection to with, the UK & Ireland. The campaign was to be designed to support a considerable mainstream campaign and was to include some cross promotion via paid media to drive organic growth (see diagram below).

There were, however, some significant constraints:
1) From the time of selection the agency partner had 10 days to be in market with a campaign; and
2) The timelines and company policy did not allow any of the significant above-the-line activity to cross-promote the social campaign.

The solution

Komosion presented three concepts based on the way content is consumed in the context of social media.

Komosion explained that Stories (Individual Posts) are the “Atomic Particle” that feed the Facebook ecosystem.

Facebook users’ newsfeeds are a filtered, aggregated, ranked list of stories from all the things they are connected to - all their friends and all the pages that people have liked.

Facebook users friends see stories in their newsfeed and if the content engages them, they usually share it.

Content strategy
In determining our content strategy, we reviewed Flight Centre’s recent activity, broke down its audience by gender and reviewed time-of-day engagement.

We researched (via the Visit Britain destination marketing authority) the most popular destinations and activities for Australians within the UK and established a content calendar that underpinned each of our three campaign concepts.

A month-long “conversational calendar” was our campaign backbone, incorporating posts covering:

  • History & Heritage
  • Film & TV locations
  • Cities
  • Gardens
  • Museums & Galleries
  • Sport
  • Royalty
  • Arts & Culture
  • Theatre, Musicals & Shows
  • Music;
  • Shopping, Food & Drink
  • Countryside
  • Family Activities

Campaign concept 1

We took Flight Centre’s “We love the UK” central theme (Ireland was added later) and, for social engagement, proposed to change it to a question: Why love the UK & Ireland?

Because Flight Centre wanted to acquire more page likes, we recommended the campaign include a competition. All posts would be art directed and professionally copy written.

We would create a range of posts designed to stimulate interaction and sharing around the prize but that also had their own intrinsic ‘shareability’.

How it would work:
1) Flight Centre would send out an EDM and Facebook posts to promote the Why love UK & Ireland campaign on Facebook.

2) The audience would be driven to the Flights Centre’s Facebook page to say why they love the UK.

3) The conversation would be started by people who know the UK, but would equally be open as a forum for people to talk about their dreams: be it to visit Old Trafford or go to the Glastonbury Festival.

4) It would result in a group of local advocates for places outside of the usual tourist destinations.
Facebook users would list whatever they loved about the UK and go in the draw to win a UK trip. The more they engage, the more chances they get.

Campaign concept 2

This concept was “Monty Python-esque”, moving from “Why Love the UK?” to “What’s so great about Britain?”

We proposed asking people to nominate what they thought was great about Britain and have other users vote their posts either up or down. As the month progressed we would stimulate comment with our own posts. We would draw a winner each week based on the most popular posts. The most popular post overall would win a trip to the UK and Ireland.

Campaign concept 3
This option centred on using Flight Centre customers in the UK to help generate content that would stimulate Australian users to follow Flight Centre and vote on the posts in order to entice them to visit the UK.

We would incentivise UK residents and Australian expats to find a picture of something they loved about the UK and upload it to Instagram with the hashtag #morethanlondon to go into the draw to win a weekly prize.

The images would be loaded on to Instagram, creating a constant user-generated feed that people in Australia could follow and vote on. By following and voting, Australian users would have the chance to win a trip to the UK.

Each week we would pick a UK winner to win a weekly prize and a new, fresh feed would begin. We would create graphics and statistics from the content to showcase benefits of visiting the UK.
The eventual winner of the main prize of a trip to the UK, drawn in Australia, would be able to go and see the things they had voted for.

Flight Centre opted to proceed with Campaign Concept 1, but determined that in order to stay consistent with its above-the-line activity, the question: Why love UK & Ireland? would be asked in the Facebook post copy only and the graphic motif would remain: We Love UK & Ireland.

The results

Facebook post reach
  • The campaign featured 28 posts over 22 days. Combined, the posts reached 800,817 people
  • Two-thirds of people reached by the campaign were reached “organically” with 530,253 posts being seen by Flight Centre Facebook followers and their friends
  • The campaign posts reached another 252,709 people in an advertisement or sponsored story

Facebook page Likes
  • At the end of the campaign period, 23,903 more people were following the Flight Centre Facebook page, when compared with the number at the start of the campaign.

Key Outcomes that contributed value to the organisation

Flight Centre undertook the campaign as part of a decision to experiment with new ways of engaging its customers.

The company has defied gravity by persisting with a hugely successful combination of “bricks and mortar” retail outlet investment and sustained mass marketing through traditional media channels, primary television, newspaper and printed brochures.

The company established its social channels in 2010. It has always invested in creating content for its brochures but in recent years has invested in blogs and other more creative forms of content.
The February social campaign was undertaken as a “pilot, test-and-learn” initiative and was a relatively small investment against its multi-million dollar press and media buy for the overall campaign. There were a range of learnings that came from the project that have helped inform subsequent marketing planning:

  • Flight Centre’s $70,000 investment in this social execution was part of a multi-million dollar budget for the overall campaign and delivered a Return on Investment.
  • In our Post Implementation Review, we believed future campaigns should focus on either engaging the existing audience or acquiring a new audience (through new page Likes).
  • This campaign sought to do both at the same time and the associated competition entry, like and share mechanics of the campaign may have been confusing for some audience members.
  • Timing played an inhibiting role. The campaign was highly successful despite its extremely tight deadline which meant we were unable to cross-promote the social competition with any above-the-line activity (as hoped) because that work had already been completed.
  • The campaign messaging for the Facebook campaign was limited by Flight Centre’s brand guidelines that required the same messaging ie. We love UK & Ireland had to be used across all channels. Flight Centre’s learning is to match message with the channel (and, in Social, that means inviting people to join a conversation).

The campaign and its execution took place at the time Facebook’s algorithm was undergoing changes. (Edgerank Checker published data in April demonstrating that organic reach for most Facebook pages had slumped to around 6.5% — down from 17% just 24 months earlier.) Together we concluded that the Facebook changes mean it’s harder to get organic success and that Flight Centre will increasingly need to ‘pay (more) to play’ on the Facebook platform.

We are now working with Flight Centre on new ways to engage audiences using content on its own platform/s in order to reduce its reliance on Facebook’s platform. This was the biggest insight from the project and reflects the global shift to a more sophisticated use of content marketing and branded content being combined with “owned” assets.

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