Brands send consumers away for big loyalty - Event Marketer

Brands send consumers away for big loyalty

Brands are whisking consumers off to exotic locations for once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences

MOST PEOPLE WILL NEVER GET TO GO on the vacation of their dreams. Hot air ballooning across the globe? Unlikely. But thanks to a few industrious brands like Budweiser Air New Zealand and spirits brand Drambuie some consumers are changing their fate and getting a shot at an international travel experience that’s big on adventure and rich with brand engagement.

For some that dream is beer and babes. We’re talking the one and only two-time Ex Award-winning program Bud Camp. The integrated spirits promotion flies men deep into the Canadian wilderness on an all-expenses-paid no ladies allowed weekend of testosterone-filled activities complete with 40 Bud Girls (in short shorts) and all the Budweiser beer they can consume. (Yes gents this place really does exist.) But Bud’s not alone in creating trips worth writing home about.

Grab your passports folks because we’re off to New Zealand and Scotland. The same airline that brought us the Pink Flight a gay-themed flight from San Francisco to Sydney for Mardi Gras in 2008 last month flew 100 singles to Auckland New Zealand on its Matchmaking Flight. For a $750 round-trip ticket on Air New Zealand passengers were treated on Oct. 13 to a pre-flight gate party with food and drinks at Los Angeles International Airport before hopping on the plane en route to the SKYCITY Auckland Convention Centre in New Zealand where a singles party on Oct. 16 awaited them. Throughout the flight the games were non-stop in a singles-only section of the plane. (Love? It was literally in the air.) To top it off ABC’s “The Bachelor” Jason Mesnick and girlfriend Molly Malaney were on-hand to give one-on-one love tips.

“We are always looking for creative and fun ways to engage people in the Kiwi experience ” says Kathryn Gregory marketing director at Air New Zealand Americas. “Air New Zealand’s Matchmaking Flight initiative was focused on providing life-changing experiences and what’s more life-changing than falling in love?”

In Auckland the Matchmaking Party kicked off with a cocktail pre-party at 6:30 p.m. at SKYCITY’S chic bar twentyone; the official bash followed at The Wharf on Northcote Point. As the clock struck twelve a bus (not a magic pumpkin but close) showed up to transport the singles back to SKYCITY for an after-party. The rest of the trip was left up to the travelers many of whom had made previous plans via a matchmaking website the brand set up for the group leading up to the big day.

Love is sweet and all but in life you need some spice too. Maybe a sprinkle of saffron and nutmeg: two of the only revealed spices used to concoct the Scotch whisky liqueur Drambuie. But it gets spicier than that. The spirits brand put the endurance of U.S. consumers to the test for the second year in a row this spring. Modeled after its longstanding U.K. program six teams of four U.S. consumers in May traveled to the all-expenses-paid 2009 Drambuie Pursuit in Scotland. The challenge is a 100-mile course that traces Scotland’s rebel Bonnie Prince Charlie’s legendary 1745 escape into the Scottish Highlands after the British defeated his army. As the legend goes the Highlands clans helped the prince escape and in return the prince left clansman Jack MacKinnon his secret recipe for the royal Drambuie.

Tapping this rich history Drambuie cooked up a unique travel experience to help excite a new generation of drinkers without compromising the integrity of its brand. The teams from all corners of the U.S. are picked from 750 entries. Once they’re selected they must present a doctor’s note confirming that they are physically fit to take on the challenge. Leading up to the event the team members receive emails and phone calls regularly from the brand to field any questions or concerns. They also receive branded gear like water bottles backpacks and luggage. All teams are flown into New York City for a meet and greet dinner; the next morning a bus brings them to the airport and then the brand flies them to Scotland where they are greeted by official Pursuit organizers. Competitors have one night of rest to recoup from jet leg and then it’s off to the town of Inverness on the Island of Skye to kick off the pursuit in Culloden where the famous 1700s battle took place. For an extra p.r. push the brand adds a celebrity to one of the teams each year. In 2009 it was actor Seann William Scott best known for his role as Stifler in the “American Pie” movies.

Walking in Prince Charlie’s shoes is no piece of cake. The Pursuit starts at 7 a.m. with an intricate course (see the full course on pursuitof1745.com) that includes archery rock climbing and off-road racing before reaching the finish line where the winning team places a stone in their name on the Battlefield of Culloden. An ambulance rides along in case of emergencies (no major injuries reported so far).

“The Drambuie Pursuit has really helped us give a tangible communications platform for the history of the brand in a way which no other program could ” says Joe Delaney regional director-North America at Drambuie. “The Pursuit has helped us reach a new generation of consumers without compromising what the brand is all about.” Experiences of a lifetime indeed. We’ll drink to that.

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