How we helped a national airline get off the ground

NewLeaf Travel is an indirect flight retailer that offers ultra low-cost flights across Canada and parts of the United States. In the fall of 2015, the start-up put out a national RFP looking for an marketing partner to help them compete on the national stage. Based on our experience in brand definition and digital marketing, Metric was selected as Agency of Record to help get NewLeaf off the ground.

We began by defining the company’s positioning. This included creating messaging that emphasized their simple, no-frills approach to travel and building a communications platform that would allow them to differentiate themselves from the competition. We then turned towards building a playful visual identity that included a new logo, custom iconography set and bold colour palette representing the sun and sky. Finally, we designed a responsive website framework that integrated with NewLeaf’s third-party booking software.

Leading up to their first flight in January, we launched an engagement strategy focused on building brand awareness. The multi-city campaign focused on promoting NewLeaf’s routes, with ads targeted to destination locations and driving traffic to their site. In the first week of sales, thousands of people booked flights with NewLeaf and close to a quarter million people visited their website.

Unfortunately, 10 days after their launch, facing complaints from competing airlines and passenger advocates, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) launched a review of NewLeaf’s licensing model. All flights were postponed and refunds delivered to customers until the airline’s suspension of operation was lifted.

To expedite the decision, Metric launched a community engagement strategy aimed at capitalizing on public goodwill. Creative focused on traveller empowerment and was executed through display ads, social media (paid and owned) and email marketing. The call to action drove traffic to a petition signup page and in less than two weeks, the initiative garnered over 16,000 thousand signatures and converted paid traffic at a rate of 37 per cent.

While NewLeaf awaited the CTA ruling, we were still working hard behind the scenes to understand audience behaviour to help inform future marketing activities. The analytic data from NewLeaf’s website and their social properties gave us access to age, gender and geographic engagement insights. All of which helped us to develop content strategies and an overarching marketing plan for the re-launch of the airline.

In late spring, the CTA cleared NewLeaf’s business model for takeoff. While they were grounded from January through June, our activities helped to build an email subscriber database of over 50,000 contacts and a social community of more than 17,000 people. Tho convert these people into passengers, we developed a teaser email marketing and social media campaign segmented by audience and supported with content specific to these groups. Over the course of the three day marketing blitz, the airline acquired another 1,500 social followers, over 2,000 email addresses and hundreds of seat sales after their official media launch.

With their regulation challenges behind them, NewLeaf’s internal marketing department has taken our recommendations in-house to execute where our brand positioning, marketing tactics and digital strategies continue to deepen passenger engagement and drive sales.

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