Ad Agencies: Innovative ideas based on actionable insights deliver incredible results! (Part Two)

In part one of my post I shared with you a Continental Tire case study from my portfolio. In this post another example that demonstrates how sometimes the client brief for a lowly direct mail letter, can be turned into a big idea, supported by the right actionable insights.

Another of our clients, South African Airways (SAA) was experiencing very poor passenger ratings for their on-ground operations and service staff. (On-Ground is defined as every interaction that occurs before you board the plane and after you disembark). Competitive airlines were consistently beating them the airline surveys and the poor experience was also subsequently impacting ticket sales.

SAA called our agency in and briefed us to write a letter from management to on-ground staff, outlining the issue and telling them that they needed to improve their approach and service levels immediately. After all, being staff it is very easy to communicate to them via a letter, and they need to know what management expects from them. Ahh right?

After taking the time to analyze the survey in detail, interview a broad cross section of ground staff, conduct random interviews with passengers and several additional interviews with ground staff leadership, we found the actionable insights that we had been looking for.

  • Firstly, we found that every nation believes that their national airline treats local passengers poorly and gives preference to foreign passengers.
  • Secondly, our research highlighted that the ground staff felt that the passengers (consumer public) did not have a very high regard for them and therefore why should they go above and beyond to help them?

We wrote the letter in response to the brief and presented as briefed. We then shared our actionable insights and made the recommendation to produce a TV commercial versus a letter. Yes a TV commercial.

The creative concept: For SAA management to publically acknowledge our staff as being both important and competent to the consumer, and make a promise about the exceptional experience they provide the passengers. The result being the creation of a deep sense of pride within the ranks of the ground staff, driving subsequent efforts to live up to the promise.

Execution: Shot on a seldom used military runway at 4am in the morning. We lined the runway with hundreds of ground staff volunteers equipped with an emergency beacon. We lined the length of the runway on both sides with staff members and arranged for one of their planes to land between them. The plane approached the blacked out runway and at an agreed time all the staff turned on their emergency lights, giving the pilot a clear look at the runway. Take a look at the commercial.

The stories of camaraderie that emanated from the shoot, combined with the incredible pride engendered by the commercial, resulted in SAA being the top rated airline for both on-ground and in-air experience on the continent.

Actionable insights drive better work and incredible results.

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