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Monarch Mountain augmented reality (AR) marketing campaign for skiers

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 18 December 2013

Monarch Airlines tunes into virtual reality for AR marketing campaign

Monarch Airlines reaches out to adventure skiers for Monarch Mountain augmented reality (AR) marketing campaign

Monarch Airlines logoCampaign name: Monarch Mountain
Brand: Monarch Airlines
Audience: Adventure skiers and skiers
Regions: United Kingdom (UK)
Duration: 01/12/2013 to 31/03/2014
Channels: Augmented reality (AR), direct marketing and email marketing

Social Media Portal (SMP): Agencies name behind the campaign

Monarch Airlines (MA): WDMP for strategy, creative and implementation.
TechDept is the technology partner for the 360 virtual reality photosphere.

SMP: The brand

MA: Monarch Airlines.  Monarch Airlines is a leading UK based scheduled leisure airline operating from six major airports across Great Britain, operating flights to holiday destinations principally around the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands and to ski destinations in winter.

SMP: What regions is the campaign for?

MA: It is targeting independent skiers across the whole of the UK

SMP: The official campaign name and why was it chosen?

MA: The campaign is called the Monarch Mountain. It uses cutting-edge technology to create a 360-degree virtual reality experience (the Monarch Mountain) that puts you right on the ski slope. The technical name for this is ‘photosphere’.

Monarch Airlines Monarch Mountain marketing campaign welcome page

SMP: What was the start and end of the campaign?

MA: 01/12/13 to 31/03/14

SMP: The target audiences of the campaign, who are you trying to reach and why?

MA: Monarch’s ski routes appeal to the independent, curious adventure skier, who are keen to find their own best route to Europe’s best snow – rather than the ‘family focused package’ skier.

The independent Adventure skier, is constantly dreaming of their next ski adventure and our direct marketing pack and virtual reality experience transports them directly to the slopes, whetting their appetite for the coming winter and inspiring them to book with Monarch.

This level of interactivity and discovery is essential as our adventure skier audience love to discover new experiences, both physically and digitally.

The campaign will also target last year’s ‘lookers’ and ‘bookers’ i.e. Monarch’s ski bookers from last year plus those who viewed ski pages on the Monarch website, but didn’t go on to actually make a booking.

SMP: Briefly, tell us about your campaign

MA: Direct marketing is very important in the travel sector buying process (creating ‘destination inspiration’ is key and as brochure ware direct marketing achieves this), but to engage this digital savvy audience we knew we had to create an involving, content rich and an immersive experience too.

To meet these on and offline needs we developed the Monarch Mountain, a 360 virtual reality experience accessed from the direct marketing pack by any smartphone, tablet or PC.

Visitors find themselves transported to a stunning virtual ski slope, with a 360 degree view complete with realistic falling snow, ski tip videos from the Ski Club of Great Britain, resort information, latest snow reports and flight prices.

SMP: What are the goals / objectives of the campaign and why is it different?

MA: The campaign is part of the airline’s strategy to become the ‘go to’ airline for independent adventure skiers.  

As a relatively new entrant to the ski market without the budgets of its competitors - Monarch needs to stand out, be known for something amongst the ski community, but also reach a bigger audience than its own prospect pool through sharing on social media.  Ultimately, though, the goal is to drive bookings.

SMP: What are the channels, platforms and methods you’re using?  

MA: The first stage of this direct marketing campaign is a teaser email, which lets people know they should look out for something exciting in the post.  This is followed up with an elegant, magazine-style mail pack full of useful information for the independent skier about Monarch ski routes.  

This also feeds their curiosity, directing them to find out more about the ski resorts they can fly to by visiting the virtual world of the Monarch Mountain.

The third phase of the campaign reaches out to non-responders who are sent a follow-up email encouraging them to book.

Access to the mountain was made easy as we used technology which didn’t require consumers to download an augmented reality (AR) reader to visit the photosphere, making it accessible with one click from any tablet, smartphone, laptop or PC.  This removed the traditional barriers to AR and significantly opened up the potential audience as a result.  

Monarch Airlines Monarch Mountain marketing various channel images

SMP: What do you hope to achieve?

MA: We hope to improve on last year’s campaign that used Blippar AR technology to deliver the immersive, content rich experience. That campaign generated:
- Bookings of £2.2million
- 22% of people who received the direct marketing pack visited the Monarch website
- A return on investment (ROI) of 18:1 for Monarch

We hope to better last year’s results by making it easier to take part in the virtual reality experience – as this year there is no need to download the Blippar AR reader to access the virtual experience.

SMP: Why did your decide to use augmented reality and is this the first time Monarch have used this technology? 

MA: We wanted to create something which felt special to the audience, something beyond traditional direct marketing brochure ware from which they would have a real ‘experience’. We also wanted to bring the sense of exploration which Monarch was now offering to life and take the recipient straight to the ski resort to get them excited about the forthcoming ski season.

As no other airline is engaging consumers in this way, the campaign will make Monarch stand out and be the ‘go to airline’ for adventure skiers.

This campaign builds on last year’s campaign that used Blippar AR technology to deliver the immersive, content rich experience. However, this year there is no need to download the Blippar AR reader to access the 360 Virtual experience.

Last year’s Blippar AR campaign was Monarch’s best performing direct campaign ever We are also delighted to announce that, this month, it not only won the Gold DMA Award  for the best Direct Marketing Campaign, but also won the Grand Prix award, as the ‘best of the best’ in the UK direct marketing industry.  

SMP: How long did the campaign take to create?  

MA: Four months.

SMP: What were the challenges in creating the campaign and how did you overcome them?

MA: The challenges were two-fold:

1)    Improve on last year’s highly successful campaign
Achieved through developing alternative technology that makes it easier to access the virtual reality experience (i.e. no need to download an AR reader like Blippar) and makes access from PCs a possibility too.

2)    Taking leading edge technology that hadn’t been used in this way before and applying I to our campaign
Overcome by  hard work, perspiration and dedication.

SMP: How are / did you making the campaign social and shareable (and how did you integrate the direct marketing)?

MA: There is a ‘share’ button on the main page of the Photosphere. By posting the Monarch Mountain to your Face Book wall you are entered in to a competition to win free Monarch flights.

SMP: What are / did you doing to measure the campaign and what measurement tools do you have in place to do this?

MA: We will track how many email and direct marketing recipients go on to book with Monarch. In addition to this tracking how many visit the Monarch website, dwell time, page impressions, unique visits, etc., plus similar engagement metrics for the Photosphere and competition entries.

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