Air Canada Cargo campaign Overwhelming response

Client: Air CanadaProduct: Air Canada CargoAgency: FCB Direct/MontrealAdirect marketing campaign by Air Canada to promote its cargo service to destinations in Europe and the u.s. was so successful the division surpassed its revenue projections for the period by 30%, according to...

Client: Air Canada

Product: Air Canada Cargo

Agency: FCB Direct/Montreal

Adirect marketing campaign by Air Canada to promote its cargo service to destinations in Europe and the u.s. was so successful the division surpassed its revenue projections for the period by 30%, according to Jeffrey Beck, manager of marketing programs and cargo communications for the Montreal-based airline.

‘The objective was to generate a 15% response rate, a pretty formidable challenge,’ Beck says. ‘And, incredibly, we surpassed that.’

He says just among freight forwarders, the cargo division’s most important customer segment, the response rate was 84%.

The overall response rate was 21%.

Beck says the strategy was to develop a contest that reinforced the company’s service to the four destinations it was trying to promote.

Prospects were offered a chance to win one of 10 free trips to London, Paris, Frankfurt or Los Angeles each time they used Air Canada Cargo to send a shipment to one of these destinations.

Beck says this summer the company will focus its direct marketing efforts on promoting its service to New Delhi, India and Seoul, the airline’s newest international destinations.

Q. How did the campaign come about?

A. The cargo side of the airline is really influenced by the passenger side. Because they share aircraft quite often, the passenger side mandates where the flights go and the schedule. Cargo, basically, has to make do with that.

Unfortunately, each summer, the real demand on the passenger side is to Europe. So we were faced with a situation where we had excess capacity and a disproportional amount of demand.

The objective was to try to develop a campaign which would result in actually stealing cargo customers from our competition and increasing our market share.

Q. Why did you select direct marketing as the vehicle to get your message across?

A. We decided to go with direct marketing for a couple of reasons.

Cargo is similar to other fields in which 80% of our revenues come from 20% of our customers. We thought we could use a direct marketing program to develop a relationship with these people and actually supplement the efforts of our salesforce.

We had a list of over 50,000 current customers, but we also used some external lists, and also mailed to people who only occasionally shipped with Air Canada.

We knew that a lot of their business was going elsewhere, so we were trying to encourage them to book more of their business on Air Canada Cargo.

Q. What was it about the creative that made the campaign work?

A. The concept was to superimpose the Air Canada logo on icons that represented the destinations that we were promoting.

For example, we used Big Ben in London. The rondelle was superimposed on the bottom arc of the Eiffel Tower. We changed the famous Hollywood sign to say Air Canada Cargo. It actually worked quite well.

Whereas somebody would not necessarily think of shipping their goods on Air Canada to Europe or to the States – if you were shipping to Paris, you might automatically think of Air France, or to London, British Airways – we were reinforcing the fact that Air Canada does serve these other destinations.