See Delta’s Creative Strategy to Tap Into New York City Marathon Buzz

The airline’s activation two weeks before the event is an example of how the brand is seeking to insert itself into important moments in one of its key markets.

By Mitra Sorrells November 29, 2016, 7:15 AM EST

Delta invited runners to map their routes with string on a large map of Manhattan.

Photo: Courtesy of Delta

Delta Air Lines launched its “NY Is Go” brand campaign last spring across New York, where it is the largest carrier with more than 27 million passengers in 2015. To amplify that campaign, the airline created an activation tied to one of the city’s biggest annual events: the TCS New York City Marathon.

“It’s about aligning ourselves with moments in time that New Yorkers care about,” said Bill Betz, Delta’s general manager of marketing communications for the East region. “[The marathon] is all about perseverance. It’s all about ‘go.’ When we saw the alignment between our regional campaign and this moment, in time it seemed like a natural place to insert ourselves into the conversation.”

The activation took place on October 23, two weeks before the marathon, because Betz said they knew participants would likely be out for their last long run before tapering their workouts in the final days leading up to the race. At five areas along a six-mile stretch of the Hudson River Greenway, Delta created “fuel stations,” providing snacks, drinks, and Delta employees to cheer on the runners.

The main piece of the activation took place at Chelsea Piers. There, runners could map their routes in string on a large map of Manhattan and write what motivates them on a running bib, with both activities doubling as backdrops for photos. Delta also distributed branded bags filled with items such as a first aid kit, a water bottle, a resistance band, and discount vouchers for Delta flights and membership to Chelsea Piers Sports Club.

To promote the event in advance, the airline created a Facebook event page and also worked with influencers who promoted it through their social channels. Betz said they tried a new strategy—partnering with some influencers who have a broad reach on social media and others that specifically target an audience of runners. About 5,000 people participated in the event. “It was a great testament to hitting the day right,” he said. “We were able to insert ourselves into the discussion in those … days leading up to the marathon when it's a true positive time before what is a very grueling event.”

The airline created a video of the event that it shared on its Facebook page, and it encouraged participants to share their experience with the hashtags #NYisGO and #NYCMarathon. Delta worked with MKG to create the activation.

Your email inquiry will be sent to 3 venue