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Emirates Airline Asks Social Shutterbugs to Say #HelloChicago

  |  July 21, 2014   |  Comments

The brand's new photo-sharing initiative celebrates Chicago as its ninth U.S. destination. And, after the first day, hundreds of submissions had been received, according to an agency rep.

Emirates Airline, coming off of a huge World Cup sponsorship that included flight attendants distributing medals after the big finale, is now asking Chicagoans to share a part of their city for a chance to win a trip to Dubai in "#HelloChicago," a riff on its existing "Hello Tomorrow" messaging.

As the brand prepares to add Chicago as its ninth U.S. destination on August 5, a rep for digital, direct, and customer relationship management (CRM) network Atmosphere Proximity says the agency wanted to find a way to unite the cities and "almost make them neighbors."

The effort also taps into the immense popularity of photography on social networks.

That's because the Dubai-based airline is inviting consumers in the Windy City to create a shared "hello" with photos of the individual letters taken throughout Chicago.

For five weeks, Emirates will post its own letters from Dubai on its social channels and ask Chicago to return the greeting by posting an image of a Chicago-based letter on Instagram, Twitter, or the contest landing page using the #HelloChicago hashtag.

Participants also have the ability to sign into the site directly via Instagram.

After the initiative launched on July 16, Joel Bloom, a creative director at Atmosphere Proximity, says the brand had received hundreds of submissions by the following day and that Instagram is by far the most popular channel.

"It's a great competition because it gives people the chance to be creative and have a forum to do it and be recognized," Bloom says.

According to Bloom, even images that have Hs written in or that contain additional letters will be eligible, in part because he wants to incentivize as much participation and sharing as possible.

However, he notes the best submissions will be later included in a short film that also spells out the greeting and he hopes that will be an additional incentive to participate with quality images.

"When we talk about 'Hello Tomorrow' in general to bring Emirates to a new market, it's...also about infusing that spirit of the brand in that city," Bloom says. "When we talk about 'Hello Tomorrow,' it's really a shared mindset, an exchange between people, places, and cultures, uniting different cities and people through travel and the experience travel brings."

According to Bloom, the contest also taps into "the culture of what's happening on social around photography."

He says social is incredibly photo-centric in large part because of the prevalence of mobile devices, which make it easy to instantly capture photos.

"It gives you a chance to share a view of the world and the city you love right then and there in a real-time nature," Bloom says.

Kristen Hall, director of brand strategy for Olapic, which says it gathers relevant photos for brands from Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Vine, and Tumblr, agrees.

"We've seen this real rise in the digital Web attributable to the rise of smartphones, which have come into everyone's lives and they're now photographers because they have a camera in their pockets," she adds.

According to Hall, 550 million photos are uploaded each day on social channels.

"The content created is staggering," Hall says. "It's how [consumers are] communicating on all social networks. We're definitely seeing visual replace text."

And that's a trend Hall sees increasing.

According to her, however, the Emirates campaign misses two opportunities: One, it lives off of the main website, which means it misses some traffic; and, two, it does not link back to the booking experience.

Hall says the travel industry in particular has a thirst for content.

"We're seeing on average, before a person goes on a trip, he or she visits 27 websites, and the amount of content that exists out there on the pages is not great in terms of what it shows. It doesn't speak to what the user wants to see and there is not a lot of it. It's difficult to create and really expensive," she notes. "What we're seeing with user-generated content is consumers are taking photos that are engaging and featuring what they want to see. So brands are taking advantage of that and harnessing that power. It's a good way to speak to that thirst while still engaging with the brand and increasing their loyalty to the brand while featuring [consumer images] on the website."

Atmosphere Proximity and advertising agency BBDO are part of Omnicom Group Inc., a marketing and corporate communications company.

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Lisa Lacy

In addition to ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, Lisa's work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.

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