Online retailer Zappos surprised consumers flying into Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport on American Airlines the day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 27, with a “Wheel of Fortune”-style giveaway game at baggage claim. Zappos transformed the baggage claim carousels with colorful panels that corresponded with different prizes dolled out as luggage rolled out.
Prizes ranged from UGG boots to JanSport backpacks to The North Face Jackets, Kitchen Aid mixers and OXO cookie presses—which Zappos shipped straight to the winning luggage owner’s home, in the size and color of their choice. In addition, there were $25, $50 and $100 gift cards in the mix as well as given out at random. Improvisational actors (including a brand ambassador dressed as a giant turkey) cheered on the crowds from branded pedestals, and handed out oven mitts and aviator sunglasses. The stunt went on all day, ultimately targeting seven flights of American Airlines travelers arriving from domestic destinations across the U.S. To promote the stunt on social media, the brand pushed posts out with hashtag #TravelHappy.
The activation was part of Zappos’ overall strategy of scaling back on budget allocations for television and print advertising and instead “showing up” about four or five times a year to hit unsuspecting consumers with a live impactful stunt or experiential program, according to Catherine Cook, manager-p.r. at Zappos.
“Ultimately at Zappos we believe strongly in word-of-mouth marketing, and we’ve really built our reputation on that,” she told Buzz. “We felt like if we pull off this stunt and surprise and delight all these passengers that are not expecting anything to come their way, that they might just go home and tell the Thanksgiving dinner table about how Zappos just made one of the most miserable travel days of the year really happy.” Agencies: Mullen, Boston (creative and p.r.); Grand Central Marketing, New York City (activation).