Heathrow: Closer

We have been working with Heathrow Airport to drive brand relevance and affection by encouraging passengers to spend more time at the airport.

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Jul 02, 2016
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Going on holiday is a wonderful experience. The excitement of planning it, the countdown to it, choosing your out­fits, packing your bag, and the anticipation of time away from the norm. But do we ever consider the airport part of this wonderful experience? We wanted to make the Heathrow brand meaningful by turning it from a travel hub to a story hub. 

The commercial objective was to increase retail sales by 2% YOY. An ambitious target and one that could not be met by bottom line savings and retailer promotional activity alone. We positioned Heathrow as a global leader by creating a higher purpose that resonates with a wide target audience. Gathering stories of all who pass through Heathrow. 

Brands who deliver world class marketing win through making their purpose feel personal. And for Heathrow that meant establishing them as the most forward thinking airport in the world. An airport that moves from processing people to progressing people.

Famously, a cleaner who worked at Nasa stated his job was ‘helping to put a man on the moon’. This example of higher purpose thinking is what has the potential to unlock Heathrow’s desire to evolve from a pure facilitator of travel to a brand that enables each and every passenger to progress with every journey they make. We devised a new brand positioning that shines a light on our passengers and drives brand relevance by celebrating a higher purpose at an individual’s level.

The positioning was driven from an insight that now, more than ever before we need to feel closer to each other. In a world where people are closing doors, we believe that people should continue to explore and learn from each other. As an airport, we see it as our role to enable people to feel closer to each other. In fact, we bring 270k passengers closer, everyday.

This is expressed differently in our two key moments in the year.
Summer makes us want to get out there.
To explore and adventure.
To get closer to the world and the people within it.
So we can find others, and others can find us.
Stay open and keep making new connections.
Keep wondering and you’ll find more.
We’re all closer than you think at Heathrow.

Christmas makes us want to find each other again.
Come back together.
To whatever makes you feel like you’re home.
Your friends, family or wherever your heart wants you to be.
Because the closer you get to home the more you feel whole.
Heathrow will bring you closer to what’s important.

Our work to date with Heathrow has seen us deliver five stunning creative campaigns, all centered around the notion of personal stories that occur at Heathrow:

70th Birthday – The First Flight

Our ­first campaign launched in the summer of 2016.

Perfectly timed with Heathrow’s 70th birthday. We celebrated the amazing stories and achievements that Heathrow has gone through over 70 years. In our TV advert our protagonist was a young girl and her bag, the plot, their ­ first flight. We followed their magical journey through Heathrow airport. This emotional tale reminds us all of the wonder of travel.

A series of activities told additional Heathrow stories, executed outdoor, in print, TV and online. 70 plaques of well-known people were placed in the airport at the precise location of the event. These plaques became conversation starters, photo opportunities and participation drivers for passengers. Joanna Lumley even helped launch our 70th birthday by unveiling her own 70th plaque in the airport, generating wide reaching PR for Heathrow.

Christmas – Coming Home

Our Christmas campaign needed to build on the success of the 70th birthday campaign and work hard in retail.

We had a limited budget but the con­fidence that the power of emotions – that naturally reside in Heathrow at Christmas – will provide the cut through needed at this competitive time of the year. Whilst summer is the time for people to depart on their adventures, Christmas is a time to come home to your loved ones. Leading us to the single thought that Heathrow can provide the most precious gift of all; the gift of coming home. 

In our ­film we follow two bears travelling home for Christmas, highlighting charming moments of their experience as they travelled through Heathrow to meet their awaiting family and finally resolving in the unveiling of their true selves.Initially running online, the ­ film was also aired on TV with supporting print and outdoor executions adorning many commuter routes and high footfall areas.

Alongside the bears, the retail focused executions encouraged people to take home an extra special something this Christmas; whether that be their favourite chocolates or a designer handbag. Digital and social channels supported both the brand and retail executions and we were able to gain more impressions through our CRM programme.

The campaign stole the hearts and minds of the nation, surprising everyone with a beautiful story that drove huge volumes of earned media for Heathrow. A campaign that also encouraged people to spend physical time in our airport and resulted in a signi­ficant uplift in spend per passenger.

The results

The Heathrow Bears stole the hearts of the nation resulting in 110 million earned views from other’s Facebook posts in the 6 week campaign period – hugely outweighing the 884 thousand we were able to achieve through media spend. And they also picked up global press coverage and event reported as “The Bears who stole Christmas”.

And ­ finally, whilst reserve and collect wasn’t a key objective for us, it was also pleasing to note that online visits to boutique increased x5 fold during the campaign period.

Heathrow Summer Campaign – The Wonderers

In 2017 we released Heathrow’s second summer advert. With a voice over from infamous John Boyega, we continued our theme of Heathrow being a destination for stories and encouraged passengers to ‘Wonder’.

The results

Our work to date with Heathrow has delivered astonishing results. Over 8,000 stories were submitted in our original request. Since then this number has grown signi­ficantly.

Brand relevance has increased with 58% of passengers saying they agree that Heathrow understands what its passengers want (KPI 50%). Sales across Heathrow retailers have increased by 7% YOY, with passengers spending an average of £8.55 more than usual. Our awareness channels alone have delivered 44 million impressions, with digital delivering a further 64 million impressions.

Christmas – It’s a wonderful flight

Our Christmas bears were so successful that we brought them back for the second year in 2017, this time telling the story of coming home over the ages. Our objective and strategy remained consistent. We created a fully integrated campaign idea that brought the bears to life and made people feel warm towards Heathrow during the festive period.

As an addition to the bears activity, we shone a light on real passengers coming home for Christmas. To create real impact, we broadcasted a live stream of Heathrow arrivals at Waterloo station. We showcased real homecomings, resulting in a warm Christmas feeling in the station; a real contrast to commuters normal experience. 

Heathrow Summer Campaign – Out Of Office

In 2018 we were set a comms objective to improve Heathrow’s perception as a leisure airport.

As everything we do at Heathrow is shown through the eyes of the passenger, we celebrated the story of a family travelling through Heathrow for their summer holiday.

Heathrow believe that every journey is significant. And so even the smallest moments in the airport are significant in our passengers lives. To bring this to life, we focused on the moment of decompression when people turn on their out of office. Research showed us that this is the moment that people feel as though their holiday has officially begun. 

The film needed to emotionally relate with people, allowing people to feel the moment of decompression as they switch into holiday mode. Our film focused on that moment of decompression as a mum typed away on her phone, writing her out of office. We saw a clear transition from work mode to holiday mode, as the children came into focus and the family were filled with joy and excitement for their holiday. The mum with her children was the perfect dynamic to hero the most important benefit of going on holiday; being able to spend quality time with those you love. 

OOH strat: Our Out Of Home lives in long dwell time sites, where we have time to tell the stories of our passengers.

Our executions hero a range of individuals, each with their own significant story; whether that was simple time away from work through to marriage proposals and the meetings of in laws. The stories were told through the out of office structure, allowing us to maintain this transition mechanic - a moment that so often happens at Heathrow. 


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