Air Miles brings the ‘gravy’ for new campaign

Who: Air Miles, with Broken Heart Love Affair for strategy and creative, Fuse Create for experiential, Media Experts for media, and Ogilvy for PR and social. Production partners include Partners Film (directed by Joachim Back), Saints Editorial, Alter Ego, Darling VFX, and Oso Audio.

What: “It’s all gravy,” a new brand platform including a new visual identity and an ad campaign to go along with the introduction of a number of program changes.

When & Where: The campaign is live now, running for the next seven weeks across TV, online (digital and social), out-of-home, experiential, PR and influencer. The 90-second hero film is being cut down to 60- and 30-second versions for TV.

Why: Air Miles is giving its members more flexibility and choice in how they earn and redeem points, and participate in promotions, said Rachel MacQueen, senior vice-president of marketing and collector experience. Those changes have been in the works for about 18 months, and included an agency roster overhaul. Now is the time to start telling that Air Miles story through a new brand identity and ad campaign.

“We wanted to bring a new set of agency partners to the table that would help us reimagine the brand,” said MacQueen. The program has changed a lot, she added, “so we wanted to update and reflect that in our brand.”

How (the logo): The new visual identity, including a new logo, is intended to make the brand “a bit more contemporary, a bit cleaner, a bit simpler,” said MacQueen (previous logo top, and new logo below.)

“It wasn’t about changing everything,” said Carlos Moreno, partner and chief creative officer at Broken Heart Love Affair, which handled both the branding and advertising. “It was about bringing them up to date… keeping all the key ingredients of the logo that people connect with, but just updating it and making it more iconic than it already is.”

How (the advertising): They wanted advertising that stood out in the category and captured the feeling of getting more from the Air Miles program. The 90-second hero spot shows a suave, smooth-talking airline pilot walking through an airplane cabin explaining how Air Miles is for those who appreciate the “freer things in life,” which they refer to as “gravy.”

The ad shows some of the many ways Air Miles members can turn their points into merchandise (from toasters to Dyson vacuums) and travel perks. “It’s like drizzling a little extra juiciness to life,” he says.

The ad is about showing how improvements to the program can lead to a better experience for members, said MacQueen. “It was really about bringing to light this whimsical environment where all sorts of little extra surprises happen… which is very much like the Air Miles experience. Lots of little extras happen when you’re part of the program.”

“It’s the aspiration of being a part of something,” said Moreno. “The first thing I felt when I looked at the final ad was, ‘I want some of that. Whatever is going on in there I want some.’”

It blends retro-style cues with ultra modern and fashionable ones like a Smeg toaster and Dyson products. “Some [moments] may feel a little bit more of yesterday, but others don’t… it’s a little bit of everything from everywhere, we were aiming to make it timeless,” said Moreno. The ad has a “very Instagrammable look and feel” said MacQueen.

Experiential elements include a two-day activation in Toronto’s Yonge Dundas Square in mid-October. “Carousel of Dreams” imagines that the plane from the launch ad has landed and Air Miles collectors have the chance to win luggage from the carousel as it comes off the plane. Each piece of luggage will represent a partner, from free gas and groceries, to Ticketmaster gift cards. In addition to the live event, Air Miles will extend the Carousel of Dreams to Facebook and Instagram to reach Air Miles members across the country.

The tagline: “We did a lot of research on it, and we talked to collectors about it, and I think what it so beautifully sums up is that the little extras you get make life a little bit better,” said MacQueen. “It’s all about those little extra things that make life that little bit better, a little bit juicy, or a little bit more fun a little bit more exciting.”

And we quote: “We haven’t seen other brands take this kind of approach before, and so we really think it’s going to break through and have people stop and reconsider what they had thought about Air Miles in the past. It’s not really the experience that collectors are having today.” — Rachel MacQueen, senior vice-president of marketing and collector experience, Air Miles

David Brown