Airports face the tough struggle when trying to develop air services and attract more airline traffic while trying to convince airlines that the new route will be profitable.
In the case of the Edmonton International Airport (EIA), more than 750,000 Edmontonians were accustomed to driving three hours south to fly out of Calgary International Airport each year. They call this drive leakage and EIA had a message to tell.
Without a clear competitive advantage to base a marketing campaign on, Donovan had to find a reason for people to care about staying loyal to Edmonton. The big solution came out of focus testing. We discovered that many people travelled to Calgary simply out of habit. It was unconscious for many, they weren't even thinking about the advantages or disadvantages. They just did it because they had always done it.
So we created a tongue-in-cheek grassroots campaign that shed light on this habit and made people wake up and take notice. We wanted to let people know the airport could attract new non-stop flights if they flew from Edmonton (rather than Calgary) on a regular basis. We also wanted Edmontonians to pick a side and be loyal to their home airport. To do this we needed to create some controversy, some friendly rivalry and some pride.
We organized a staged rally in downtown Edmonton and held a series of staged guerilla promotions and events to remind the community that the one thing EIA could do to transform their air service was to win back the loyalty of Edmontonians. We ran print ads, billboards, and had online Quit Kits: full habit-stopping cures and incentives to help users quit their Calgary habit.
Within two months, Donovan shattered the 1% drive leakage reduction goal by 4x to 5x.
Within one year, drive leakage was reduced 4% to 5%. Over 29,000 people stopped driving to Calgary to fly.
The campaign helped EIA secure 21% more non-stop flights and significantly improved gross revenue from airport improvement fees alone.