Who Wants to Be a MillionAAir?
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Who Wants to Be a MillionAAir?

While Regis Philbin tested America’s knowledge on the smash-hit ABC-TV show, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?,” the American Airlines Web site, AA.com, quizzed its site visitors with travel and airline-specific questions in its own “MillionAAir Travel Triv

Paul Holmes

 

Is that your final answer?  While Regis Philbin tested America’s knowledge on the smash-hit ABC-TV show, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?,” the American Airlines Web site, AA.com, quizzed its site visitors with travel and airline-specific questions in its own “MillionAAir Travel Trivia Game.” The promotion was a part of American’s continuing initiatives to attract online users and educate them about AA.com’s features. Participants who answered the trivia questions correctly were eligible to win one million AAdvantage frequent flyer miles. BSMG Worldwide was charged with generating print and online coverage for the “MillionAAir” promotion.   In addition to traditional media outreach, BSMG leveraged the power of the Internet to conduct online media relations and reach consumers directly without the media “filters.” And, by capitalizing on a hit TV show that has permeated American culture, BSMG Worldwide secured offline and online results in numerous outlets, including USA Today, Yahoo! Internet Life’s Web site, MSNBC.com and CNNfn.com.  In all activity, AA.com was positioned as a premier destination on the Internet for travel information, planning and purchase.

CHALLENGES

While promotions can gain immediate visibility for a company’s product or service, turning visitors into customers is always a challenge.   Other challenges:

  • American Airlines wanted participants to learn more about the site’s features and to enroll into the AAdvantage Travel Awards Program, in addition to playing the interactive trivia game.
  • There is an abundance of sweepstakes information on the Internet. BSMG
    Worldwide would need to break through the clutter get significant attention for the promotion.
  • BSMG would need to insure that the offline and online pitching efforts did not overlap, so significant research was conducted to identify publications with separate online staffs.

OBJECTIVES

Communications objectives of the “MillionAAir” public relations program included:

  • Drive online users to the AA.com Web site
  • Educate online users about the features of the AA.com Web site and the  AAdvantage program through the interactive quiz
  • Generate online and offline coverage

RESEARCH

BSMG Worldwide identified media outlets that would be appropriate to target for this promotion.   The BSMG team compiled a list of outlets whose demographics were similar to the viewer demographics of ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” program.  These outlets were further segmented into online and offline opportunities.   Overall research tactics:

  • Determine appropriate media outlets for pitching activity
  • Determine the appropriate contact for each publication, online or offline
  • Identify communities on the Internet likely to be interested in the promotion and appropriate for direct contact via chat rooms, message boards and e-mail messages
  • Experiment with tailored pitch angles for specific audiences to determine how to best focus each pitch

STRATEGY

BSMG Worldwide’s primary public relations strategy for this promotion was to generate online and offline media coverage to attract site visitors and encourage them to play the trivia game. As part of this strategy, site visitors would become knowledgeable about the AA.com Web site and the AAdvantage frequent flyer program.  As a result, AA.com’s visibility would be enhanced as a premier travel site on the Internet.  

EXECUTION

Because the promotion had offline and online components, it was critical to convey consistent messages about the promotion in both media.   While the BSMG team conducted both traditional and online media relations, it took the online strategy a step further by reaching target audiences directly through online messaging efforts.    This multi-faceted campaign included the following activities:

·        Broad distribution to primarily offline media, including daily newspapers, syndicates, magazines, TV and radio stations via PRNewswire

  • Targeted distribution with tailored pitches to key offline media including top-tier daily newspapers and  syndicates (e.g., travel editors), as well as media follow-up
  • Broad distribution to online media and consumers via Internet Wire
  • Targeted distribution to key online media and sites, e.g., Bestfares.com, Smarterliving.com, Tripeze.com, 
  • About.com Travel, Trip.com and Travelzoo.com

Key messages were posted in 42 trivia and contests-and sweepstakes-related forums on the Internet, allowing BSMG to reach consumers directly.

RESULTS

As a result of BSMG Worldwide’s media outreach activities, coverage was secured for the MillionAAir travel trivia game in significant traditional and online media outlets, including Yahoo! Internet Life’s Web site, USA Today and USAToday.com, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, Y-Life to Go e-zine, MSNBC.com and CNNfn.com.  Traditional and online outreach activities resulted in an estimated 16 million impressions. 
Overall, the contest was very successful for American Airlines, with more than 223,000 site visitors entering the contest over a three-month period. 

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