Aeroméxico’s Trump trolling campaign: explained | Contagious

Aeroméxico made headlines by offering discounts to Americans with Mexican heritage. We quizzed the agency to find out more.

When US president Donald Trump couldn’t secure funding for his divisive border wall with Mexico earlier this year, he shut the government down. But you knew that. What you may not have known is that the shutdown helped airline Aeroméxico increase flights from the US to Mexico by 33%.

This airline leveraged the border-wall controversy and turned it into ticket sales through a campaign called DNA Discounts, which worked like this: Aeroméxico offered Americans cheaper tickets to Mexico if they could prove their Mexican heritage by taking a DNA test (the greater your genetic connection to the country, the greater the discount).

To promote the discounts, Aeroméxico created a film in which Texans were questioned about their interest in going to Mexico. As you may have guessed, initial responses were largely negative and grounded in prejudice. After taking a DNA test and hearing about the discount they were eligible to receive, however, their attitudes shifted. It was a clear anti-wall statement.

The campaign was initially released in May 2018, to little fanfare. But in January 2019 when the government shutdown pushed the border wall to the front-pages again, the agencies behind the campaign (Ogilvy Mexico City and Ogilvy Bogotá) gave it another push. And it went viral, being shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media and getting picked up by outlets such as Time magazine, USA Today, and CNN.

DNA Discounts wasn’t the first time Aeroméxico has inserted itself in political conversation, either. A 2016 campaign, Fronteras, was a direct response to Trump’s border wall speech. It challenged a serious issue, borders being built – not just between Mexico and the USA – but between different factions of people. The voiceover even explicitly stated: ‘Borders: has anything good ever come of them?’

When Aeroméxico was questioned about the Fronteras campaign, its marketing director answered: ‘We felt at the time that we had to go out and make a bold statement.’

And yet, when Aeroméxico’s DNA Discounts campaign attracted renewed interest in January 2019, bold statements from the company’s executives came there none. The campaign video was no where to be found on the airline’s social media channel, either (it was promoted through agency channels). In fact, it looked like the brand was hiding from the campaign.

The Financial Times picked up on the brand’s silence, speculating: ‘Aeroméxico appears wary of upsetting the new government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, which is walking on eggshells to keep good relations with Mr Trump.’

To get to the bottom of the matter, we asked the agency behind the campaign.

When we emailed Ogilvy Latam CCO, John Forero, to ask why Aeroméxico had not shared the video on its social media channels, he responded: ‘Aeroméxico has not wanted to give declarations about it because you have to take into account that your business partner is Delta, a North American company. As there is a political situation in the middle, our client has decided to handle things with prudence.’

The veracity of the discounts was questioned, too, because it wasn’t clear how people could access them (the campaign case study video just stated they were given out in partnership with unspecified ‘local US travel agencies’). Interest was sufficient that Snopes even investigated the matter.

To learn more, we spoke to Mariana Cárnedas, chief strategy officer at Ogilvy Bogotá. She couldn’t tell us much more than what was in the case study video (we’re waiting to hear back on some more questions), but she did go over the insight and strategy behind the campaign. The whole interview can be viewed on Contagious I/O, but an abridged version is below.

Can you tell me a bit more about Aeromexico? What is its position in the market?

Aeroméxico is a brand that is proud of its origins and has a communications philosophy that is daring, big and bold.

For the past couple of years, the brand’s statement has been: ‘There are no borders between us,’ which along with the communication actions, establishes the brand’s position and point of view regarding […] controversial political and cultural situations, as well as conversations about Mexico.

What was the brief that led to the DNA Discounts campaign?

Aeroméxico, is one of Mexico’s major airlines and gets a lot of its income from flights from Mexico to US, but not so much the other way around. Planes were leaving full from Mexico, and returning with [empty seats]. Flights to the USA from Mexico account for 58.1% of Aeroméxico’s income per year, while flights from the USA to Mexico account for only 27.7% of annual income.

For an airline business this implies a non-sustainable situation in the long run in terms of people, time and budget. Aeroméxico needed to find an immediate way to face and change this reality and overcome this situation, figuring out at the same time how to make a big statement about the brand’s position and purpose.

What were the business objectives?

The business objectives were focused on reducing the difference in terms of occupation [number of people on the plane] between flights from the US to Mexico and flights from Mexico to the US. It was necessary to make a statement that would be so strong it could be replicated and understood all over the US.

The campaign gained a lot of attention earlier this year, even though it happened six months earlier, why? Was that a conscious strategic decision?

Yes, we launched the campaign when it was relevant, but political and social circumstances were relevant enough for us to give it a new push and make the campaign something that people could stand up for.

We expected it to be a conversation starter for people in the US, but we didn’t expect it to become a global and viral point of view that most people shared. [According to Cárnedas, the campaign video got 23,404,089 views in just a week on different platforms, achieving a total of 1.6 billion impressions. More than 300,000 people shared the video on their own Facebook timeline.]

What was the insight behind the campaign?

Historically there has always been xenophobic conversation within the United States, [but now] hatred is at its highest level. And the intention to build a wall that separates both countries is stronger and more radical over the Southern border.

Knowing this and having the [results] of all the research we previously did on Mexican migration, cultural history, etc., and through analysis and creative input, we got to the conclusion of ‘How can you reject something you’ve got inside?’ That was the basis of our campaign.

How did you come up with the idea?

It was clear that in a category where price is one of the main deciding factors, we needed to do a promotional campaign. But the twist was that it needed to be more than just a discount, and prove the brand’s view that ‘there are no borders between us’.

We started another research project into travelling motivation, and we understood that origins and ‘self-discovery’ were the creative resource that would give the campaign the punch it needed.

We established that this situation was a behavioural problem that could only be countered by another behaviour. So we appealed to something they loved (discounts) and something they said they didn’t like (Mexico), to develop an unconventional way to provide discounts: using people’s DNA. It turned a traditional promotion into an innovative and revealing reward.

Was it difficult to get Aeroméxico to agree to do it?

Aeroméxico is invested in its brand positioning and willing to go for daring, big and bold campaigns, and that was why they were on board from the beginning.

As for the implementation, as their agency we needed to be respectful, aware and cautious of their business in the US and partnerships with American companies.

Source: Aeroméxico’s Trump trolling campaign: explained | Contagious

How TerraCycle is making recycling sexy | Contagious

The whole world is up in arms about plastic pollution. Here’s how one company is making sustainability aspirational

Last year plastic became public enemy number one. This is thanks, in part, to the BBC, David Attenborough and the so-called Blue Planet II Effect.

As our head of advisory Patrick Jeffrey pointed out at the end of last year: ‘Shocked by the final episode – which showed turtles getting tangled in shopping bags, albatrosses choking on washed-up toothpicks and sperm whales eating huge pieces of plastic – people felt compelled to change. Searches for “plastic recycling” rose 55% overnight and politicians rallied: secretary of state for the environment, Michael Gove, said he felt “haunted’” by the episode and prime minister Theresa May referred to the show when she announced the government’s 25-Year Environment Plan.’

While people’s concern seemed to peak in 2018, plastic is ‘set to be an even bigger consumer focus in 2019’, according to Rosemarie Downey, Euromonitor International packaging industry manager, writing in the market researcher’s 2019 consumer trends report.

Naturally, brands are now keen to be seen as part of the solution, and one solution is being proffered by TerraCycle.

Unilever, Nestlé, PepsiCo and P&G are just four of 25 companies that worked with the recycling company to develop Loop, a zero-waste packaging system that refills empty containers of shampoo, juice, detergent and other household items, like the milkman used to. Instead of cheap plastic, the containers are made from durable materials, such as glass or stainless steel. The customer pays a deposit for each one, plus the cost of the product inside, then notifies Loop when it needs refilling.

It’s a sustainable solution, but also a desirable one, and this is important: Shoppers claim to care about sustainability, but few care enough to spend more on an inferior product. We spoke to Jon Tipple, global chief strategy officer at Futurebrand, and TerraCycle Europe’s general manager Laure Cucuron, to find out how Loop is encouraging environmental awareness in a format that marketing managers, and customers, can actually get excited about.

Why do you think sustainability has garnered more conversation recently?

Cucuron: I think it’s because it became much more visible than it used to be. If you go to the beach in the summer, you’ll actually see the plastic in the sand and I think more people have become aware of the impact. Companies, as well, have got to a point now where they need to rethink the way they produce and distribute their packaging and their products. Consumers are asking them to do better, to do more and to act now.

Tipple: I also think there’s something about the way that sustainable solutions have become quite aspirational, quite sexy, quite well-designed. You only have to look at what’s happened in the car industry, what’s happening in environmental design, what’s happening outside of packaging, and you’ll see there’s lots of interesting designers who are really interested in how to create desire, but in a way that doesn’t kill the planet in the process.

So, sustainability is becoming a new kind of luxury?

Tipple: Absolutely, even brands like Burberry are getting behind this much more, so it’s become a part of the luxury experience.

Coke has recently admitted that it produces 3 million tonnes of plastic packaging per year. What advice would you give to brands to make it easier on themselves to make the shift away from plastic?

Cucuron: Brands should first develop more solutions to recycle what they produce. They should also integrate more recycled content in their packaging. It’s good to recycle more, but if you don’t create a demand for recycled content then the circular economy won’t work. We also look at niche waste streams that create a story for consumers. If you say: ‘this bottle is made using 80% recycled PET’, nobody cares because nobody understands. But when you talk about a bottle being made from beach plastic, it really creates a strong call to action. Then I also really think the consumption models need to be rethought. It was for that reason we created the Loop platform.

Tipple: It would be a massive mistake for people to think that Loop is about sustainability alone. Look at it [he gestures to the Haagen Dazs prototype, pictured above], as a brand guy I just go ‘I want that’. I’d feel much more confident trying to sell Haagen Dazs if it came in this, which happens to be sustainable, as opposed to just saying, ‘this is about sustainability’. Because it isn’t. It’s clearly about aspiration and premiumisation. They’ve created this opportunity to make Haagen Dazs super special again with a new form of packaging and a new story.

There’s built-in loyalty too, because it gets refilled with the same product.

Tipple: Absolutely. And imagine if you started personalising it. This is my version and my flavour.

Cucuron: And you can track it. There are a lot of marketing opportunities as well. When we created the Loop platform we thought about two aspects. The first one was about sustainability and durability. The second was the convenience of use, because if you look at the current refill models – refill stations, zero waste stores, the shops where you have all the food in bulk – most of us don’t use them because it’s not convenient. So we thought about how we could be convenient and close the loop. That’s why we decided to start with the ecommerce platforms, so we control the distribution there and back. It’s a great experience for the consumer as well. I use the product, then I put it back in my Loop bag, which is replacing my bin. Then it’s picked up in the same way my recycling is picked up, and then instead of being recycled or being incinerated and sent to landfill, it is cleaned and sent back to the brand to be refilled. So for me as a consumer it’s super easy.

Tipple: This is sustainability going into the mainstream. This is the tipping point […] it gets over the hurdle that humans are all lazy and fallible, and it’ll make being sustainable easy.

And people would be saving money in the long run because you’re not paying for the added plastic packaging.

Tipple: Yes, exactly.

Cucuron: The packaging will become an asset to the manufacturer again. We are talking about the milkman model applied to all categories. And as a consumer I will never own the packaging anymore, which means I won’t pay for it, I’ll just put a deposit on it, and then I’m not responsible for recycling it or disposing of it, so that puts the responsibility back on the manufacturer as it used to be in the 50s, pre-plastic.So it’s not crazy innovation. It’s innovative, sure, but it’s existed before.

How much time do you think brands have to make this kind of shift?

Cucuron: Well if you ask me I would tell you it’s already too late.

Tipple: As someone who works for brands, this changes the conversation. Until now this could easily be postponed, because you get into a financial conversation about how we can’t afford it this year, but maybe next year, and as everyone knows, in marketing, ‘next year’ means ‘never’. So the fact that this is an aspirational thing I think completely changes the consideration set; it makes it hard to sit there and say we can’t afford to do this from a capital expenditure point of view, especially if you’ve got a great big corporate purpose around environmental positivity, which most companies do. If you’re saying no to an environmental product, you’re not living up to what you say you stand for. And the brands who do what they say are the brands that people gravitate towards. Millennials, in particular, and everyone else as a consequence, gravitate towards brands that live up to their principles and I think this is a fantastic way, even a quite easy way, for brands to live up to their principles. Yes, it’s going to cost you some money initially, but a principle isn’t a principle until it’s cost you some money, and this is just a little bit up front with a long-term return, so over time it will pay for itself.

It’s also interesting that it’s so collaborative.

Tipple: TerraCycle is part of a new era of innovation companies who are motivated not purely by profit, they make money, as they should, but they’re motivated by two things: a desire to make a difference to the planet and people’s lives and communities, so they’re tackling this disposability issue, but to do it in a way that is for everyone, and that’s why they want to work with big companies, to make things available.

The example that we talked about in our talk was Tesla, it’s a classic example of having an amazing technology but deciding to use it to fight other car brands, as opposed to making their technology open source. Tesla would be enormous if they did that. Imagine if you could buy a Ford car with Tesla inside, they’d fly off the forecourts because people love that technology. But at the moment Tesla technology is only available in Tesla cars, which makes it the wrong story.

Loop and other companies are making their technology available to everyone because their ambition is to change the world and not to make a load of money for themselves, the money comes because of the ambition.

Source: How TerraCycle is making recycling sexy | Contagious