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See an In-Flight Fashion Show in the Sky

To promote a Chicago shopping festival, Southwest Airlines hosted an in-flight fashion show.

By Jenny Berg September 10, 2014, 7:00 AM EDT

Photo: Courtesy of Southwest Airlines

Presented by MasterCard, the Magnificent Mile Shopping Festival takes over the storied shopping strip in Chicago in the late summertime. Running from August 22 to September 1, this year's festival included pop-up shops, a chefs' tasting event, and a very unusual pre-event promotion that took place aboard a Southwest Airlines aircraft on August 18.

To spread the word about the festival, organizers from the Magnificent Mile Association teamed up with the airline—which has been named the “Official Airline of the Magnificent Mile”— to host the first ”Runway in the Sky.” Held in the aisle of a 737 traveling from New York to Chicago, the event featured Factor models wearing styles from Macy's, which has a location on Michigan Avenue. Carrie Lannon, a Chicago-based fashion expert, took over the on-board microphone to provide commentary on the looks.

The brief runway show was a surprise for travelers, and its organization “took several months of planning,” said Adam Skaf, public relations associate at the Magnificent Mile Association. “Once plans started to move, we identified a flight from New York City, a fashion destination in itself, then planned the actual show with the help of Factor models. We wanted to showcase the Magnificent Mile while also staying true to the Southwest brand of being a 'fun-LUVing' airline. Together, partners worked extremely hard to make the show a success.” (LUV is Southwest Airlines' New York Stock Exchange ticker symbol, and the brand plays with the letters as part of its marketing materials.)

Organizers also invited Chicago-based journalists to experience the activation, flying press to New York City on August 17 so that they could be present for the in-flight event. The flight had Wi-Fi, and organizers kept track of the number of social media impressions that were generated during and after the stunt. There were, for example, 143 unique tweets with the hashtag #RunwayIntheSky; those posts were retweeted and ultimately created more than 1.7 million impressions. “We couldn't be happier for the way things turned out,” Skaf said, “and we're looking forward to partnering again on another fun experience for our customers.”

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