American Airlines: 2009 Digital Holiday Card

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Best Campaign that Uses a Holiday Theme in its Promotion

American Airlines: 2009 Digital Holiday Card
Agency: The Marketing Arm
Client: American Airlines

As a result of a tough 2009, American Airlines wanted to use its holiday card to say thank you to its customers without a promotional message and to encourage them not only to look forward to the future, but to shift their perspective during the holiday season. From this idea came the message “look up.”

The airline also sought to generate at least $150,000 in donations to AA-supported charities while generating positive word of mouth about the brand. They wanted a campaign that was engaging, viral, inspiring, and uplifting, while capturing the airline’s personality.

On December 10, AA emailed a holiday email to more than 14 million customers, inviting them to click through and watch the two-minute animated holiday card, which was designed to take American Airline-centric images and themes and weave them into an experience that struck the right balance of thanks, optimism, holiday and branding. The card also encouraged recipients to “look up” and find hope, promise and optimism in the coming year.

After viewing the card, recipients could help others look up by giving to one of three AA-supported charities: USO, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and Miles for Kids in Need. They did. The microsite received almost 500,000 visitors without any incentive. The average click-to-open rate was double that of 2009’s one-off emails.

Overall, about 6,000 customers donated almost $200,000 – and 14 million miles to AA charities. The holiday e-card received more than 30 media placements, including stories in the Chicago Tribune (print and online), Business Week, Tradingmarkets.com, and travel blog Jaunted.com.

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