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Case study: Experiential campaigns create buzz around a product or launch 

Client brief

Our brief was to deliver buzz around new flights from KLM across the world using an ‘experiential’ campaign with significant media, social media and word-of-mouth impact.

The objective was to integrate with other marketing activity supporting the launch of the new flights, to help raise awareness and ultimately drive bookings.

Messaging was complex and of specifically brand orientated – for KLM this focused on warmth, family, fun, quirky, connections, “Dutchness”.

The campaign

Polymedia devised #SOClosetoU – a play on the SOU airport code and using these worldwide codes to underline the campaign messages.

Our campaign included highly visual stunts worked across broadcast and traditional media to create a huge buzz. Our focus, as always, was clearly on audiences, strategic messaging and the best mechanisms to connect the two.

Experiential disruptive element

Our Campaign: #SOclose2U used the IATA (International Air Transport Association) codes – the three-letter airport codes used around the world. Southampton’s is SOU. The launch campaign used the social media hashtag #SOclose2U to underline the message that KLM’s flights from Southampton now bring the world to your doorstep.

We produced 15ft giant letters in agreed IATA codes (LIM, DXB etc) and under cover of darkness, we erected the letters in key locations in Southampton and Portsmouth without any indication of what they were all about.

A pre-negotiated partnership with Wave 105 radio ensured that their airwaves and their powerful social media channels were alive with chatter about what the letters might mean, while the regional press in Hampshire picked up on the mystery in print and online.

On the second day, the sets of airport codes in Portsmouth and Southampton were switched for new ones, further deepening the mystery.

On the third day, the giant codes were replaced with the letters KLM and, in a guerrilla-style exercise, hundreds of baby letters popped up overnight at bus stops and parks, on lamp-posts and fences at high-footfall community locations across the Southampton Airport catchment area. (They were removed by our team two days later).

Only then was it confirmed, via a call from head of KLM UK to Wave 105’s Breakfast Show, that the airline was behind the stunt.

People were challenged to picture themselves with the KLM baby letters or their massive parents to win flights to anywhere in the world – prompting a social surge over a gloriously sunny weekend.

A cracking stage 2

The launch campaign then moved into its second phase with Wave 105 hosting an on-air “Code Cracker” competition in which listeners could win flights and a package to Dubai.

That weekend, the theme moved into a new stage as a live Code Cracker machine, developed by Polymedia, appeared at the main shopping centres in Portsmouth and Southampton. Shoppers queued in their hundreds to press the big KLM blue button to win merchandise and the chance to jet off to Dubai and Amsterdam.

Reunited for stage 3

In the final phase of the campaign, we joined forces with regional print media to launch an emotional “reunion” for readers with family and friends across the world, to be brought together at Southampton Airport. Two families are now ready to be reunited at the airport thanks to partnerships with The News and the  Southern Daily Echo.


The launch campaign achieved more than a month’s worth of intense activity during which a huge level of awareness of KLM’s new services was achieved via thousands of radio listeners and readers of the regional press, social media buzz and high-visibility stunts seen by thousands of passers-by. The campaign had an estimated reach of more than 2 million through online, print and social media. Wave 105.2 reported it as their most successful ever social media campaign, with phenomenal reach and engagement on Twitter for the duration of the competition stage. Innovative and integrated – that’s the Polymedia way.

The campaign was delivered on time and to budget.