Emirates Airline partnered with LCI to promote the launch of the world’s first nonstop service between San Francisco and Dubai, one of the hottest new destinations for business and leisure travelers. LCI was charged with building and maintaining positive awareness and buzz for Emirates and its brand in the San Francisco Bay Area – both in advance of and through the December 2008 service launch.
LCI helped to conceive and execute a series of memorable, newsworthy events that allowed media to experience – and cover – the Emirates brand at multiple points over the course of the campaign. The LCI team recognized the need to think beyond the traditional press release and press conference to keep Emirates top of mind as the premier way to travel to Dubai.
While Emirates had historically hosted ‘roadshows’ for travel industry professionals when entering a new market, LCI recommended inviting media to shows planned for San Francisco and San Jose to introduce the Emirates brand and begin building key journalist relationships. To create a compelling visual for broadcast and print media, LCI encouraged Emirates to offer journalists an exclusive first look at Emirates’ private First Class Cabin Suite – as well as one-on-one interviews – during an on-site media preview before the roadshows opened to invited guests.
With the service launch still five months away, LCI worked with Emirates to create a high-profile event at San Francisco International Airport that was positioned as an exclusive opportunity for media to fly on Emirates’ A380 – the ‘rock star’ of modern aircraft and the first fully-outfitted plane of its kind to be unveiled on the West Coast. A two-hour demo flight allowed journalists and VIPs to experience Emirates’ luxury product and world-class service in the air. To create multiple photo opportunities, LCI designated a ‘viewing deck’ for media to shoot the arrival of the A380 aircraft and celebratory water cannon ceremony. LCI also managed a press conference with Emirates executives from Dubai to ensure that all media – even those who could not participate in the demo flight – received valuable content for stories.
While the December service launch was sure to be major local news, LCI aimed to raise the profile of Emirates’ story to national status. To create national – and international – news value around the San Francisco service launch, LCI and the Emirates PR team recommended that Emirates explore possibilities to make the inaugural flight from Dubai to San Francisco ‘the world’s longest green flight.’ Emirates worked with government agencies in Dubai, Russia, Iceland, Canada, the United States and other countries to plot the most environmentally-sophisticated trip possible to help save an estimated 2,000 gallons of fuel and 30,000 pounds of carbon emissions on the 16-hour direct service. In collaboration with Emirates’ New York-based PR firm, M. Silver & Associates, LCI invited national and local aviation and environment media to witness the arrival of ‘the world’s longest green flight’ at San Francisco International Airport. A press conference with His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, offered media a rare opportunity to discuss Emirates’ green initiatives and the economic impact of the new San Francisco-Dubai route with the head of the airline.
LCI also leveraged Emirates’ San Francisco launch gala – and celebrity performers Cheryl Crow and Hilary Swank – to drive additional buzz and coverage for Emirates. To help establish Emirates among San Francisco Bay Area society and business ‘movers and shakers,’ LCI recommended key local influencers for the gala invite list. As support from local government officials was critical to building credibility in the community, LCI leveraged its relationship with the San Francisco Mayor’s Office to help secure attendance by Mayor Gavin Newsom at Emirates’ launch events.
The world’s longest green flight garnered national and international coverage for Emirates and the San Francisco service launch in the New York Times, USAToday.com, CondeNast Traveler, International Herald Tribune, FastCompany.com and MSNBC.com. In the local San Francisco Bay Area market, LCI secured more than 40 television and radio news segments on Emirates over the course of the launch campaign. The LCI team garnered multiple features in the San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News, including front page stories in both publications around Emirates’ A380 demo flight. LCI secured additional print coverage in the San Francisco Business Times, San Francisco Examiner, nine Bay Area News Group newspapers, 7×7 magazine and PR Week. Mayor Gavin Newsom spoke at Emirates’ gala to welcome Emirates to San Francisco and commend the airline for achieving the world’s longest green flight and bringing 1,000 new jobs to city. The December 2008 launch activities alone generated nearly 130 million impressions.