- Diageo brand Smirnoff Seltzer is holding a contest to offer travel upgrades to holiday travelers who are stuck in the middle seat, according to a news release provided to Marketing Dive. Through Dec. 14, travelers can share their seat stories and flight information at SmirnoffSeltzerUpgrade.com for a chance to win a seat upgrade. Smirnoff is spending up to $50,000 in upgrades, so multiple winners will be selected.
- In a similar campaign, AB InBev brand Stella Artois is also offering upgrades, along with free rides home and other surprises, for holiday travelers with middle-seat tickets, per a news release. The brand released a YouTube video surprising people with upgraded plane tickets home for the holidays.
- For a chance to win, consumers can share their travel woes on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using hashtags #StellaUpgrades and #Contest, until Dec. 21. Along with travel upgrades, the beer brand is giving away a membership pass that lets travelers skip airport security, free car service or tickets to shows and games throughout the month of December on social media.
Both Smirnoff Seltzer and Stella Artois are tapping into the chaotic holiday travel season and the fact that the middle seat is one of the most dreaded aspects of air travel. Both brands cited research showing that sitting in the middle seat is more hated than getting stuck in traffic, going on a blind date or going to the dentist. Plus, the middle seat affects millions of consumers, as more than 60 million people traveled by plane last December, according to U.S. Department of Transportation data cited in the Smirnoff release.
With the busy holiday travel season underway, the brands are using the contests to make consumers' travel more comfortable. Stunts like upgrading airline seats are becoming more popular with brands seeking to provide unique and memorable experiences and raise brand awareness. The campaigns are well-timed around the holidays, when booze sales often increase because of holiday parties and gift-giving.
By soliciting stories of travel woes on social media, Stella could drive up social engagement and broaden its reach. The campaign aligns with the brand's recent marketing that focuses on decreasing stress during the holiday season. Stella last week debuted a "robot bartender" accessory that "serves" drinks and snacks while cleaning up after itself.
For Smirnoff, the middle seat campaign continues its commitment to bringing fun to not-so-fun situations. The creative is an extension of the brand’s "Welcome to the Fun%" campaign, which launched in August and features a diverse case of celebrities, including Ted Danson and TV personality Jonathan Van Ness, to promote Smirnoff's affordability and accessibility. The campaign also follows a similar effort around the Fourth of July, when Smirnoff urged fans to take a five-day weekend since the holiday fell on a Wednesday. Smirnoff held a contest on social media asking fans to show how they would spend the extra time off and paid for 100 people to take off July 5 and 6.