This year, Cathay introduced new designs in all three classes simultaneously for the first time. To give consumers a close-up look at the new cabins, the Hong Kong-based airline in May launched a web site, www.cathaypacific.com/experience that gives users an unusually close-up look at Cathay's aircraft and the world of flying.
If backpacker tourists want to find out just how luxurious first-class travel can be, Cathay Pacific's new web site will be an eye-opener. Business travelers already familiar with the front of the plane can attempt a tricky night landing at Hong Kong's legendary but now-closed Kai Tak airport on the same flight simulator tools used by real Cathay pilots.
Since the site's soft launch in May, more than 1.1 million unique users have visited Cathay Pacific's web site during the first phase, according to in-house data.
This month, the Hong Kong-based airline has revamped the site into a more experiential destination with a virtual tour led by 3D versions of flight attendants -- "Nancy" in first class, "Flora" in business and "Janice" in economy. The attendants lead consumers through the craft to their seat and treat them just as they would on a plane, right down to offering champagne and caviar before take-off to passengers in first class.
"We needed to create an umbrella campaign for the entire upgrade, while also highlighting the benefits of each individual cabin class," said Thierry Halbroth, senior creative director of McCann Erickson's Cathay Pacific team in Hong Kong.
The web site was created using "green-screen shooting and some computer wizardry." It is also, Mr. Halbroth said with a laugh, "the least expensive way to visit our new first class. The virtual tour allows visitors to enter a truly interactive environment that provides an experience second only to being on the aircraft themselves."
The second phase of the web campaign lets consumers sample the airline's service, food and beverage options and StudioCX in-flight entertainment system with surprising realism.
Playing with an online version of the in-flight screen, for example, site visitors can view trailers for films currently included in Cathay's in-flight entertainment platform. They can also watch samples of digital games offered by Cathay.
"With green-screen shooting, [real Cathay Pacific flight attendants] had to go through the motions of serving food and drink without a cabin interior or passenger to guide their actions. Then they had to do it for every item we offer in the virtual tour, 115 items," Mr. Halbroth said. "Then they had to do each take until the director was satisfied. I'm sure they're happy to be back on board their normal flights serving real people now."
The web site is supported in print and out-of-home ads and online banners running in international business, travel and lifestyle media such as the International Herald Tribune, the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast and The Sunday Times.
Cathay has also created a TV spot, "Mob," that shows a business traveler running through city streets. He is followed by a parade of secretaries, couriers and others, including a small dog, trying to get his attention as he races to the airport. Once on board, he is tucked in to his flat-seat bed by a flight attendant and left in blissful silence.
The spot is running on international pay-TV channels such as CNN International, BBC World, National Geographic and the Discovery Channel. McCann Erickson also created a 100-second video with a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the online tour airing on YouTube.
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