Terminally Cool: Airports use space for interactive campaigns


Airports have traditionally been a prime target for advertisers (captive audience: check), but recent marketing efforts are turning airport real estate into a venue for a variety of more interactive customer experiences.

Boston Logan’s agreement with locally-based Dunkin’ Donuts includes installation of 7-foot-tall replicas of Dunkin’ Donut coffee cups at Terminals A and C, with occasional free sampling scheduled to promote the brand. Courtyard by Marriott has installed a temporary replica of its lobby at Denver International to promote the hotel chain’s new look. And passengers at terminal eight of New York’s JFK airport can experience an interactive touch-screen display created to promote IBM’s Smarter Cities initiative.

Meanwhile, London’s Gatwick Airport has found a customer-friendly use of cutting edge media technology, aimed at helping passengers mediate the mess of the airport’s ongoing construction and remodeling project. [more]

November finds the airport unveiling its “Gatwick Discovery Tour,” which uses giant bar codes printed on scaffolding outside the terminals as an audio-visual information tool, accessible through a mobile phone application.  The airport, in partnership with stickybits, hopes the bar codes will form part of an over-arching strategy to keep passengers informed on the ongoing renovation of the airport.

“We wanted to find a fun and interactive way to communicate to passengers about how the money is being invested, what work is going on behind the [scaffolding] and how they will eventually benefit. Many of our passengers are social media savvy so introducing stickybits is a great way to interact with them,” noted Samantha Holgate, Gatwick’s Head of Airport Communications.

Using the camera on their smart phones, passengers can access a video that shows how the new route between the North and South Terminals was built and completed ahead of schedule. 

It’s part of a larger trend that sees airports converted into canvases for splashy campaigns, but Gatwick’s combination of old-fashioned customer-mindedness with high-tech feels friendly and fun. The only question: Will it make travelers feel better about – shuttered terminals, closed gates, scaffolding and “pardon our appearance” signs?