United Airlines contest turns aircraft into canvases for women artists
- United Airlines announced a design contest, "Her Art Here," that gives female artists the chance to design a mural for a Boeing 757 in honor of Women's History Month, according to a news release.
- To enter, individuals identifying as a woman, including cisgender, transgender, woman-aligned or nonbinary people, are asked to submit a design online that represents either New York/New Jersey or California — two of United's biggest markets. The brand has asked that the designs reflect its mission and what the communities mean to the artist. Two winners, one from each region, will get to work with the artist Shantell Martin on a finalized design. Martin's murals showcasing an interactive airplane window with videos will also be on display in New York and Los Angeles as part of the competition.
- Submissions will be judged by a panel from each region, led by United's regional presidents in those areas, and the public will get to vote for their favorites. Finalists and winners will receive an open gallery show, have their work displayed in United terminals and available for purchase, and win 100,000 MileagePlus award miles. The aircraft with the winning designs will take flight this fall.
United Airlines is using “Her Art Here” to highlight its commitment to gender equality and raising awareness about women's underrepresentation in the art world. The campaign was inspired by statistics from the National Museum of Women in the Arts revealing that 51% of artists are women, but less than 13% of art on display in museums is by women. The contest will give the winners the chance to show off their work on aircraft that will fly an average of 1.6 million miles a year and make about 476 cross-country trips, according to United.
More brands are tying their marketing strategies around support for up-and-coming and underrepresented creatives. PepsiCo's LifeWTR ran a similar packaging campaign two years ago based on research that 51% of visual artists are women, but that women make up less than 5% of all permanent collections in museums. Fender also just launched a "Fender Next" platform that plans to feature 50 new artists from around the world. The program was inspired by internal research showing that women make up half of all new guitar players, African Americans account for 19% and Latinos for 25%.
United celebrating Women's History Month is part of the airline's ongoing efforts to build an emotional connection with consumers, who more frequently want brands to support gender inclusion, positivity and empowerment. United has had its share of bad publicity over the past couple of years, including a passenger being dragged off a flight after it was overbooked in 2017, which led consumers to call out the brand on social media.The death of a puppy on board a flight last year increased negative sentiment on social media for United 140% in the two days following the news, according to a Digimind analysis.
United has started to see a turnaround, however. The company showed the biggest improvement in consumer perception from 2017 to 2018, according to YouGov, with a 9.6-point increase to a -3.5 score on the firm's annual Buzz rankings. The report examines whether consumers have heard anything negative or positive about a brand over the past two weeks, and is based on a scale from -100 to +100 points.