KLM Space Flight - Place in Space
4 years ago

7 marketing lessons from KLM’s space flight campaign

‘Sky is the limit’ is the most common statement all of us will have heard when discussing innovative ideas. But, KLM Airlines has taken that statement seriously.

The Dutch airline has launched a unique campaign known as ‘Claim your place in space‘.

On 22 April 2013, KLM will launch a special high altitude balloon from Nevada dessert in the US. This balloon will carry GPS and camera systems to monitor/track the balloon.

Once the balloon reaches the outer atmosphere, it is expected to expand and eventually pop.

The height at which the balloon pops is measured by the GPS and camera systems.

Now, the contest is – users have to login to Space.klm.com to guestimate the maximum height the balloon will reach.

Users can mark the height and the also the exact position in a horizontal grid (imagine marking a place in an x, y axis) and the user who makes the correct or closest guess will be declared the winner.

This campaign is being run entirely online so once the balloon is launched on 22 April, everyone can monitor the path/position of the balloon online.

The winner gets a flight for two to Curacao with a stay at a luxury hotel and, a unique space flight for one, aboard the SXC Lynx spaceship. Yes, you go to space for FREE.

There are some marketing lessons from this campaign for travel brands.

1. Grab attention

There are many contests and campaigns that are running in the travel industry right now. KLM is very clever in thinking about something many people only dream about – Space.

Even just talking about space makes one go high. Here, KLM has designed a contest that revolves around the concept of space and it becomes easy for them to get users hooked to it.

Do something unique, that grabs attention.

2. Personalize it

This campaign is designed in such a way that everyone can claim a place in space as THEIR OWN. Users can mark a place in space with their name and picture on it.

A concept like this is definitely better than ‘Guess when we will reach 50,000 fans in Facebook, winner gets a prize’ type of contest.

This KLM space flight contest makes you feel involved and gives a personal touch.

3. Execute well

The entire animation sequence used in the contest is neat, smooth, simple and engaging, the key here is ‘engaging’.

Users are asked to cut the rope so that the balloon can fly, asked to pick a place from space and finally shown a neat visualization on where exactly the claimed place in the entire space is.

The animation was augmented with speech and sub-titles so that the message is clear to the audience.

The background sound that plays throughout the campaign gives a feel that we’re not on earth.

KLM Space Flight - Cut The Rope

KLM Space Flight - Place in Space

4. Customer information is gold, grab it

Clearly, this campaign is not to gather customer information (name, email, location) for later marketing efforts.

But, indirectly KLM can achieve this. In the registration page where a user enters name, email and location to mark a place in space, there is a field that asks users whether they want to receive newsletters from KLM.

KLM Space Flight Campaign - Register For Newsletter

5. Make it foolproof

The worst thing that can happen in a contest is, somebody cracking that loophole in the process to win it without any effort.

Technically, the contest participation can be automated through robot scripts and the winning possibilities can be increased.

KLM has prevented this from happening by simply placing a captcha page before confirming the entry, ensuring that only humans participate in the contest.

KLM Space Flight Campaign - Captcha Page

6. Make it social

The best marketing is through word-of-mouth. With social media in place, the effect will simply be amplified.

KLM has designed this contest in such a way that the user’s place in the space expands if the user share’s the unique URL with social media resulting in a win-win situation, for KLM – the user  and friends of the user.

For every friend in social media who joins the contest, the user’s place in space expands.

KLM Space Flight Campaign - Social Share

7. Make it mobile friendly

With mobile becoming an indispensable channel in the travel industry, any event rollout by a travel company should have a mobile focus in mind.

KLM’s space flight campaign is optimized for tablets – iPad 2+ (Safari for iOS5 and iOS6), Android 4+ (standard browser only) and also for mobiles – Safari for iOS5 and iOS6, Android 2.3 and 4+ (standard browser only).

The entire animation sequence works smooth in the above devices.

Overall summary:

KLM is not new to innovation. It has a track record including the KLM Surprise campaign it launched two years ago.

As part of the Surprise campaign, the airline tracked its traveler’s social media updates about their trip and offered personalized gifts to 28 people who were at the airport. This eventually resulted in a million impressions in Twitter alone in a three week period!

KLM space flight campaign is yet another massive attempt towards brand building, engaging customers and gaining new customers in an innovative way.

We will have to wait and see the ROI on this campaign.

Video on KLM Surprise

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Karthick Prabu

About the Writer :: Karthick Prabu

Karthick was general manager for Tnooz in Asia until September 2014.



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  1. Mons

    As the PM for this project I couldn’t agree more on Joeri’s 8th point. The coffee-catchups in the morning and sticky notes on a board did pay off… 🙂

  2. John Di Carlo

    Great post! This has to be the epitome of the cliche “think outside the box” It is not simply clever, it is a stroke of marketing genius. It just demonstrates what can be achieved if we abandon tired thinking and let our imaginations run riot!

  3. Neha Ginoria

    Absolutely amazing! thanks for sharing Karthick 🙂

  4. Joeri

    Hi Karthick,

    I have been the UX designer on this project and I’d like to thank you for your post! It’s great to see how people respond to the site and especially when people like yourself see it as an example of great social marketing, so thanks for the feathers up our asses 😉
    I have to admit, even though most of the points you mention were intentionally designed, non of us expected it to be such a success, so looking back, it seems to make sense the choices we’ve made, but it was a big struggle and a great team effort to get where we are now.
    so if I may, I’d like to add a marketing lesson to your post :
    #8: Getting a team together
    Work with the best team you can possibly imagine. Catch up every day, talk to each other and fight about every pixel. Work late and fall in love with the project. Treat is as your baby and know that everybody feels the same about it.

    • Karthick Prabu

      Karthick Prabu

      Hi Joeri,

      Thanks for the comments.

      Absolutely, agree on your 8th marketing lesson.

      I shall follow up with you once the campaign is launched.

  5. Jennifer Kent

    That is social media done right. Totally amazing. Thank you so much for sharing!!!


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