NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- EBay is taking its holiday marketing plans to new heights -- literally.
The online retailer is partnering with Delta Air Lines to provide free WiFi to passengers on nearly 300 airplanes with domestic destinations for seven days, beginning Nov. 24. EBay and Delta plan to begin promoting the partnership in the coming days. Passengers will be given a promotional code that will take them directly to eBay's holiday home page. Giving passengers free WiFi during one of the busiest travel periods, not to mention shopping periods, of the year is a calculated move for the online retailer, which has been working to attract new customers and shift the perceptions of existing customers.
"We're doing a number of things this holiday season to reengage consumers around the great selection and deals available on eBay," said Alan Marks, senior VP-corporate communications. "People can make an immediate purchase from the air or just see things that they think are interesting and want to flag, and then go do some price comparison."
The retailer will be tracking the log-ins and general usage of the service, which is provided by Gogo, an inflight internet service provider, though passengers won't necessarily need to make purchases from eBay to consider the program a success, Mr. Marks said. By directing passengers to eBay's holiday homepage, the retailer will be able to showcase its "Daily Deals," as well as brand-name goods it hopes will go a long way toward educating consumers about the shift in its product mix. Some of those brand names include the Nintendo Wii and Sony PSP Go, Ugg boots, the iPhone 3GS, "Twilight" books and DVDs, and Abercrombie & Fitch clothing.
Mr. Marks did not specify the cost of the promotion, though he said it's a "relatively small portion" of the overall branding campaign that eBay launched this week. That campaign, with the tagline "Come to think of it ... eBay," includes TV, print, digital, out-of-home and events, including a pop-up store. Goodby Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, handled creative for the overall campaign, while Swirl, San Francisco, handled collateral for the promotion with Delta.
For Delta's part, the airline plans to promote the free WiFi deal with a dedicated e-mail to customers traveling during the Thanksgiving period. It will also notify customers at the gate about the offer and promote it through Delta.com and its blog.
Mike Henny, manager-customer experience at Delta, said the partnership with eBay is the first of its kind for the airline. To date, Delta has been holding its own "Try before you buy" promotions, as well as advertising the WiFi service at the gate. "We saw this as a great opportunity, as a means of driving both awareness and trial and giving customers good value in allowing free usage on board when we know a lot of people will be traveling," he said of the partnership with eBay.
Delta began rolling out WiFi service on its domestic fleet earlier this year and plans to continue rolling out the service to Northwest Airlines' domestic fleet next year. (Delta and Northwest are in the process of merging.) "Since it's a slow rollout you have to keep building awareness over time, as well as let customers know there's a lot of uses for on board WiFi beyond just work e-mail or e-mail," said Mr. Henny, adding that the airline hopes to do promotions similar to the eBay-sponsored WiFi in the future.