Air New Zealand, best known for its quirky in-flight safety videos, has come up with an equally crazy stunt to promote its London to Los Angeles route: sending British couples on blind dates all the way to the West Coast.
The carrier claims to be the only airline to provide a "sky couch" -- a set of three seats which fold into a bed for two -- in economy class, and is giving two couples the opportunity to try one out on a free weekend trip from London to Los Angeles.
On Valentine's Day, contestants will gather at a specially built TV studio in Heathrow airport's Terminal 1 to take part in a blind-date contest, dubbed Blind Gate. Each contestant will bring a passport and a packed suitcase, and the two lucky couples chosen, one gay and one straight, will board an Air New Zealand flight to Los Angeles as soon as the winners are announced.
Joint London, the agency set up in May 2012 by Damon Collins and Richard Exon, the former executive creative director and CEO of Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, came up with the idea, which they hope will provide enough content for a five-episode series.
Mr. Collins said, "People don't think of Air New Zealand as flying to L.A., so this is a way to get noticed and create a buzz. The sky couch is known as 'cuddle class' and the idea is that the experience is so good, you will arrive in L.A. feeling good to go for the whole weekend."
Cameras will follow the two couples throughout their weekends in L.A., including the journey on Air New Zealand, to see how they get on. The agency has created an itinerary for the couples that takes them to unusual places, and has teamed up with the Guardian newspaper's "Blind Date" section to recruit "open minded" contestants for the compatibility quiz at Heathrow that will send them on a long flight in cuddle class with a complete stranger.
The questions will promote elements of Air New Zealand's in-flight experience by asking contestants what drinks they might order or what movies they might watch on their journey. Economy class customers on Air New Zealand can order drinks and snacks from a seatback touch-screen and watch the entertainment channels as soon as they board the plane. Couples who buy two seats can get the third seat, to make up the sky couch, at a heavily discounted price.
Mr. Collins added, "We want to create content that is shareable, talked about, and searchable when people are looking for L.A. flights and trips to L.A."