Tintin and His New Adventures
Two Belgian giants are working together for the first time to create a very unique experience for passengers travelling on Brussels Airlines. The Star Alliance member based in Brussels, Belgium and Moulinsart have been working secretly for months on a unique new livery to celebrate the beloved character.
The partnership produced a 37m long black shark, based on Professor Calculus’ shark submarine from the Tintin adventure, Red Rackham’s treasure. The Airbus A320 aircraft used for this adventure has been nicknamed “Rackham” with the fuselage painted with the tagline “We fly you to the home of Tintin”. Passengers are encourage to follow this aircraft and post pictures of it with hashtag #SNRackham on various social media networks (there is a contest on Instagram with the best picture winning a roundtrip for two to any European destinations served by Brussels Airlines)
Brussels Airlines worked with aircraft paint artist Andre Eisele to create the Tintin livery with Moulinsart’s team of graphic designers. The entire paint job took 1,500 man hours to complete the exterior and interior focusing on the cartoon’s liveliness. Check the following infographic for more information on this unique livery.
The aircraft will be used on Brussels Airlines’ short haul network for the next four years. The Airbus A320 features 174 seats (18 in business and 156 in economy) in a 3-3 configuration. All seats are the same with 30″ pitch and 17.2″ width with no inflight entertainment system installed. Business class passengers have the middle seat blocked for additional space.
Additional pictures and video of the aircraft is shown below (Image are from the Daily Mail and video is from Brussels Airlines).
It is a great marketing initiative for Brussels Airlines to bring Tintin into life. This will not only bring the beloved cartoon character to the forefront but also promote the airline as an option for family. If the livery and the marketing efforts are well received, do not be surprised to see this airline paint other aircrafts in its fleet. For the next 4 years, passengers might be treated to additional tie-ins with the character (e.g. holiday specials and limited edition duty free items, etc).
Brussels Airlines has been experimenting with different types of marketing to attract flyers. It is the official airline for Tomorrowland which is catered to younger passengers (refer to the video below for the flight).
Although this type of one off marketing can be costly for any airline, it can bring press attention and build passenger awareness. When executed well, it can build brand loyalty to the targetted segment.
There is a movement worldwide for airlines to use famous cartoon or animated characters for marketing purposes. Some of the most successful tie-ins include:
EVA Airways (BR) – Based out of Taipei, Taiwan, this Star Alliance member has built a network of aircrafts and service around the Hello Kitty theme. Its success is built upon the use of the theme both inside and out of the aircraft. Each plane (6 in total)’s exterior is painted with a unique livery.
Inside, Hello Kitty motifs are featured throughout including decor, meal service, washroom amenities and duty free service. This type of attention of details attracts a lot of dedicated passengers and contribute to auxiliary revenue for the airline.
Food and duty free products are changed every 3 to 6 months to bring freshness and exclusiveness. Finally, it is the only airline in the world which has a dedicated Hello Kitty themed lounge.
EVA Airways has been so successful with this product that it has expanded the service to 11 routes across Asia (Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Seoul, Guam, Shanghai, Sapporo, Fukuoka), Europe (Paris) and North America (Houston – June 2015).
Other airlines that feature cartoon or animation characters include:
All Nippon Airways – Based out of Tokyo, Japan, it featured Pokemon characters on two Boeing 747-400 aircrafts back in 2006. Specific service items and exclusive sale products were introduced.
Critical Success Factors
Airlines should consider whether incorporating cartoon or animated characters would enhance the brand with the targeted audience before starting any partnerships. Working directly with tourism associations and cartoon/animation companies would enable airlines to strategize brining a unique passenger experience.
Specifically, airlines need to create a need for passengers to fly them based on a tie-in. This could be in the form of celebration of a new route in association with the character, new movie / book release, key tourism event, and key anniversary for the character.
Besides painting the livery onto an aircraft, additional considerations (such as meal service, airport / lounge decor, on board amenities, for sale products) should be considered and planned to enhance the experience. What made EVA Airways’ Hello Kitty product success was the board implementation of the character into the service. Over time, passengers interesting in Hello Kitty will associate this Taiwanese airline.
To build awareness, social media and traditional advertising campaigns featuring contests, print media, videos, or countdowns could be used to build curiosity to the targeted audience.
Scorecards should be created to monitor passenger engagement and feedback for future improvement. Successful campaigns can be expanded to gain market shares or yields.
Brussels Airlines is on a successful path to build Tintin into a brand. With the right amount of marketing and product push, this partnership can turn into a successful venture in attracting more families to the airline.