Free shipping isn't just an effective marketing ploy for retailers -- one airline wants in on the action. Norwegian Air Shuttle, which has been in the U.S. for three years, is planning The Best Free Shipping Sale on Earth, a brand activation that runs from Dec. 16, this year's Free Shipping Day, to Dec. 20.
On a microsite, consumers can enter a lottery for 20 different products from European destinations -- a silk scarf from Rome, or a sweater from Norway, for example. The person who wins the item will receive it for free, along with a pair of tickets to its city of origin. It's like 20 different sweepstakes, explained Ben Kaufman, marketing manager-USA at Norwegian.
"You don't see a lot of airlines taking advantage of this pre-holiday rush -- it's a very retail-oriented space but not necessarily travel-oriented," said Mr. Kaufman. "Because it's so unexpected for an airline, we thought it would make a huge impact." Free Shipping Day has served as a promotional strategy for retailers eager to attract last-minute holiday shoppers with specific deals.
Mr. Kaufman noted that Norwegian has been trying to differentiate itself from the unrelated but well-known Norwegian Cruise Lines brand and build its U.S. audience. Many Americans erroneously believe the airline only flies to Norway, he noted. The new activation, which was created with Durham, N.C.-based McKinney, could also expand Norwegian's standing with coveted millennials. Airport operator Avinor also worked on the campaign.
"This time of year, every retailer on the planet is touting free shipping like it's the best thing ever. But why should all the stuff we buy get to globetrot for free instead of us?" asked Stevie Archer, group creative director at McKinney. "Spanish espadrilles and Hungarian paprika aren't going to make any lifelong memories or have any once-in-a-lifetime adventures on their trips across the ocean."
This is Norwegian's second campaign with McKinney, following an effort over the summer.
To spread the word about the holiday campaign, Norwegian has bought big on digital and social channels and is also partnering with Thrillist on marketing that includes a New York City-based event. The activation's soft launch begins this week and advertisements will run until Dec. 20. Though Mr. Kaufman did not specify how much Norwegian is spending on the effort, he noted that it is not an inexpensive undertaking. Last year, Norwegian spent $3 million on measured media in the U.S., according to Kantar Media.
"Traditionally, we have a very playful brand and one that's very willing to try out new things and show personality," said Mr. Kaufman, noting a recent campaign meant to capitalize on the breakup of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie by encouraging trips to Los Angeles for a now-single Mr. Pitt. "But it's something that we use selectively and only when we feel it will make the biggest impact."