American Airlines Research Proves OOH Can Help Brands Soar to New Heights

At Rapport our brand promise is ‘Rewarding Connections’, as part of this connection we believe it is important to take the time to measure, understand and learn from campaigns via the form of research, in order to not only provide a measure of a campaign’s effectiveness, but also to provide actionable insights that can inform future Out-of-Home (OOH) strategy and planning.

An example of this was an OOH campaign for US airline carrier, American Airlines. A regular advertiser across the medium for a number of years, running both spring and fall campaigns. Activity in 2015 noticeably differed from the previous year; their media budget had been reduced significantly. In part, this decision was informed by learning from activity in 2014 that confirmed two oft-repeated truths about OOH media; the first of which is that it is a broadcast medium and secondly that it builds brand frame. Ad recall for the OOH activity was far greater than that of any other media channel; demonstrating the reach and ubiquity of the channel.

OOH also outperformed Print and Digital across the Brand Association measure, with respondents more likely to successfully identify the branded American Airlines advertising. This may be a result of an absence for the need to compete with rival news companies and digital web space, as print and digital actively seem to do respectively. The key question here was to understand how successful the campaign in 2015 would be in light of significant reduction in ad spend.

Despite reduced investment, the quality of the planning involved in targeting the affluent, frequent business flyer, commonly associated with American Airlines customers, was never in question. The results proved to be remarkable and reaffirm how those companies who consistently adopt the medium in their overall media strategies can successfully grow their brand equity.

Using results from 2014 as a foundation, we saw near-identical outcomes across both the pre & post waves results. Despite similarities on this front, prompted awareness for those who actively recalled seeing the OOH advertising later on increased by 10% year-on-year. This is a clear indicator that repeat and consistent usage of the channel can drive an increase in ad awareness over a period of time.

As you may expect, the increase in ad awareness also translated into success stories across both spontaneous and prompted brand awareness. Those who recalled having seen the OOH campaign were twice as likely to spontaneously recall the American Airlines brand compared to the previous twelve months.

The results of the campaign were equally emphatic when we begin to scrutinise some of the metrics in more detail. Bold and confident assertions from respondents, combined with strong campaign cut-through to our target, ultimately lead us to believe that the behavioural and attitudinal changes seen throughout the campaign could very well result in greater consideration towards the American Airlines brand in future.

From closer analysis, it was also interesting to note how American Airlines shied away from the familiar communications tactic of sales activation; choosing not to focus their advertising message on a sale or flight affordability. Instead, they drew greater attention to the brand and concentrated heavily on the influence of Binet & Field’s IPA paper, ‘The Long and the Short of It’.

American Airlines have been been able to build their brand over a sustained period of time, and in doing so, they have radically altered brand perceptions. As a matter of fact, those who recalled having seen the OOH campaign were considerably more likely to associate American Airlines with ‘comfort’, ‘luxury’ and ‘excitement’ – the very measurements the campaign sought to influence.

Written By
Ross Wilson

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