The acquisition of Virgin America by Alaska Airlines sent shockwaves through the travel, hospitality and meetings industry last year. At the same time, it created excitement and uncertainty. Within our walls, it meant change was eminent as Virgin America was a major sponsor of the San Francisco Giants. But with change comes opportunity: This summer at the 8th Annual San Francisco Giant Race we integrated Alaska Airlines as the presenting sponsor and introduced their brand in creative, interactive and functional ways that were appreciated by 40,000 runners and spectators over the course of three days from August 25th-27th at AT&T Park.
Working with the Alaska Airlines team, we created six exciting brand activations and touch points ranging widely in size, scope and complexity. The following is a look into how we effectively integrated the Alaska Airlines brand into our event:
Alaska Airlines Brand Activations
1. San Francisco Giants’ Dugout – Early in the season, the exterior and interior of the San Francisco Giants’ Dugout was branded with an Alaska Airlines wrap. We realized that prominent placement was the perfect locale to further enhance their brand experience within the ballpark. We created several interactive photo sharing stations to promote the #iRunAlaska hashtag. By sharing the hashtag, runners were instantly entered to win prizes that included a roundtrip Alaska Airlines flight. The activations were wildly popular throughout race day and the Alaska Airlines brand became further ingrained in this sacred and revered area of AT&T Park.
2. Left Field Lounge – As our half-marathon, 10k and 5k runners zoomed across the finish line and into an on-field finish corral crowned by a gigantic, inflatable Alaska Airlines plane arch, they were greeted by a new activation in left field that we’ve never previously featured at this race. We created a 200-ft relaxation lounge furnished with hammocks, bean bag chairs, and shade areas so our participants had a comfortable area to catch their breath, meet up with friends & family and reflect on their racing accomplishment while stretching and winding down.
3. DJ Booth on Promenade Level – During our Health & Wellness Expo leading up to the race, we built a prominent DJ Booth on the Promenade Level in our central Anchor Plaza space. There, runners had the opportunity to pick up Alaska Airlines swag, interact with brand ambassadors and dance to the smooth sounds of DJ Amy Rollins. Throughout the Expo, Rollins’ snazzy soundtrack was piped throughout the AT&T Park PA system as attendees were graced with fun music in between brand announcements and race updates delivered by our in-ballpark entertainment host, Therese Vinal.
4. Custom Screen Printing – In addition to the DJ Booth, we set up a custom T-shirt screen printing station in Anchor Plaza. Attendees had the option to choose from a number of different Alaska Airlines designs and, right before their eyes, an Alaska Brand Ambassador would print them a take-away T-shirt souvenir. The ease and speed in which this was facilitated was truly impressive and during the entirety of the Expo there was a constant line at this activation station.
5. Step & Repeat Banners – Custom-printed Alaska Airlines photo banners allowed attendees to pose for pictures using airplane props and accessories throughout the entire weekend. An Alaska Airlines photographer took three consecutive photos and using special camera technology deftly stitched together the images to form an animated GIF that was emailed to photo participants in under 10 seconds.
6. Twitter Vending Machine – To improve the use and implementation of the #iRunAlaska hashtag we set up an interactive Twitter vending machine on the Promenade Level in left field. Participants could tweet and show their social media posts incorporating the #iRunAlaska or #GiantRace hashtags to an Alaska Airlines Brand Ambassador. Then by interacting with this special vending machine, participants redeemed an immediate prize. Talk about instant gratification!
On September 13th, two weeks following The San Francisco Giant Race, Alaska Airlines officially announced an agreement to become the official airline of the San Francisco Giants. This extends our original partnership, first established in 2008 with Virgin America, for the next seven years.
As part of this extension, Alaska Airlines also agreed to serve as our presenting partner for the entire Giant Race Series, which in addition to San Francisco, also includes race events in Sacramento, San Jose and Scottsdale, AZ.
Our partnership is just taking off with Alaska Airlines and we can only imagine the creative, innovative and entertaining ways that we will be able to work together to activate on race days in each of our four cities for years to come.
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