Air Miles prepares for takeoff with new agency roster

Broken Heart Love Affair will lead brand strategy, with Fuse Create, Media Experts and Ogilvy on experiential, media and PR.


Air Miles has selected a new agency roster to help it communicate the upgrades and updates it has been undertaking to keep its loyalty program relevant to what consumers are looking for.

The loyalty program’s roster now includes Broken Heart Love Affair as its lead agency for brand strategy, Fuse Create for experiential and shopper marketing (the former previously handled by T1), Media Experts for media buying (previously handled by Ahfield Media) and Ogilvy leading on PR and social (taking over from North Strategic).

Air Miles has not worked with an agency on brand strategy for “a few years,” according to Rachel MacQueen, SVP of collector experience and marketing at Air Miles.

“What we realized as we look at where we’re going, with enhancements and programs innovations we are bringing to market, we felt we needed a strategic partner,” she says.

Looking forward, MacQueen says the broad range of Air Miles’ rewards portfolio was a strength pre-pandemic, and will continue to be so. While she concedes that travel restrictions and the lack of travel desire has impacted redemptions, on the flip side, it has seen enormous, double-digit growth in merchandise redemption.

“We know that most Canadians are not motivated by the same rewards,” she says. “However, merchandise is the category that Canadians and collectors really want to use their miles for this year.”

In the summer, Air Miles launched a new brand platform called “Rewarding Canadians, every day,” which featured members and their stories to highlight the fact that someone in Canada achieves an Air Miles reward every two seconds.

Since November, Air Miles has been running an associated campaign introducing 1,000 products in this reward pipeline, so collectors can get more rewards for fewer miles through the Air Miles Cash program, which launches next week and will allow members to redeem points for digital vouchers to be redeemed at partner vendors

Rewards programs are about personalized relevance, MacQueen says, even if as a whole, previous loyalty program studies have found these aspects are frequently wanting.

As part of broader efforts in this regard, Air Miles has also added products related to home office, backyards and staycations, as well as from brands that are relevant to today’s environment like DoorDash, Uber Eats, Spotify and Nintendo. It has also invested heavily in digital to deliver personalization at scale, and has responded to consumer insights to open up opportunities to give, for example, by donating miles.

MacQueen says when it comes to a more personalized connection with collectors, it’s put together “Happy Everyday” two months of daily content through the Air Miles Facebook page, an effort to engage with consumers more frequently and to introduce a bit of levity in a trying time, with opportunities to engage with musicians and celebrities, for example, or play trivia games in exchange for prizes.