Instead of getting stuck in the price story rut, we tapped into the public conversation about FIFA as a way to get people’s attention. We set up stories and let members of the public carry them forward.
In January 2010, local airlines were bombarded with negative media coverage on the apparent cost hikes of domestic flights to the World Cup host cities. Prices were actually very reasonable during the World Cup but the media kept focusing on this issue from a sensational angle. Collaborating with our King James Group partners, Atmosphere was called in to help ensure that kulula’s investment in the World Cup paid off, and to protect and build the airline’s reputation as a fun, consumer-focused brand, and more importantly, to fill the excess capacity during the event.
In February 2010, Atmosphere kicked off the campaign through a series of well-targeted media releases, issuing a challenge from kulula’s CEO, Gidon Novick, to other airlines to drop their prices. The resulting media coverage highlighted that kulula was offering consumers a fair deal, and various media outlets did comparative pricing tables. Directly after the coverage, Atmosphere’s partner, King James, placed a fun tongue-in-cheek advert. When FIFA issued a legal letter in response to the once-off advert designed to playfully bend some of the rules around World Cup marketing, Atmosphere provided an immediate running commentary on Facebook and Twitter and ensured that bloggers and media were immediately alerted on developments as they unfolded. This ensured that kulula – through Atmosphere – was always one step ahead of FIFA’s (rather slower) PR response. Atmosphere’s response eventually made its way onto CNN. Atmosphere also conceived numerous other tongue-in-cheek stunts on behalf of kulula, which included trademarking the sky for April Fools’ Day, taking on the British tabloids, a tactical drop of tissues on planes after SA’s loss against Uruguay, and offering free flights to Sepp Blatter, which were conveniently taken up by a very cute Boston Terrier also called Sepp.
The campaign not only built the reputation of kulula but also placed it in the middle of the World Cup media hype globally – without any official endorser status and on a limited budget.
The campaign succeeded in attracting new business, with a significant rise in flight ticket sales over the World Cup period (50 000 extra seats were filled – beyond normal capacity). kulula secured 332 items of coverage valued at over R8.6 million (AVE 1:1) over the campaign period (February to August 2010).