After Kari, (@pocahontis) and I finished with our EA SPORTS Active day at the NYC Marriott Marquis, we left the hotel and headed straight for the Whistlin Dixie Texas Tavern. There was a guitar hero competition on going. Both Christi Day, @SouthWestAir and Morgan Johnston, @JetBlue, were hosting a contest to see who could out do the other in a soon-to-be released version of Guitar Hero.
Christi lost the competition, but Morgan and Christi were working and on this night, neither of them were losing; they were winning customer loyalty in a way that has had some I've explained this to scratching their heads, and they were having incredible fun doing it. This was not your dad's form of brand building. This was not your Don Draper's form of advertising and PR. This was modern day social media. It was working. And this was exciting to watch.
As you know, I've been a PR practitioner since I got out of Auburn in 1989. I've never seen anything like what I saw Monday night. Here in a crowded pub on the west side of NYC, were dozens of guys and gals who had been recruited via social media, Twitter, Facebook, and word of mouth, to be there to dual it out on Guitar Hero. The prizes? How about free airline tickets on each carrier for each member of the winning team? How about a whole Guitar Hero band set up? (The big box set!) How about a couple Guitar Hero guitars?
And there's more. Throughout the evening and in particular as one of the bands were leaving, Christi was recruiting them to join her to play Guitar Hero at La Guardia for the arrival of the maiden voyage of Southwest on June 28th.
So now there are guys and gals in NYC who are telling their friends in person and online no doubt, "you're not going to believe it, but I won free tix on @SouthWestAir and @JetBlue. the other night." Or, "I won a whole kickass Guitar Hero set from @SouthWestAir and @JetBlue." How is that for brilliance? They've won loyal customers, favorability with their brand, and no one has even gone through a TSA check point.
Were their any news reporters there? No. But guess what? Some of the airlines bloggers in NYC were. Again, they left with a postive impression of these two airlines, reinforced with, at the very least, the incredibly fun atmosphere that permeates from all Southwest Airlines employees.
Would someone from American Airlines do anything like this? Hell no. Would an American Airlines flight attendant even be caught in a place like the Whistlin Dixie Texas Tavern? You've got to be kidding.
But there were Christi and Morgan. Morgan is a cool customer. One of those guys you feel like you know you've met somewhere. Christi? Surrounded by computer/social media geeks all gawking at her platinum gold hair and her bright red dress of the evening. And she was as comfortable with them as anyone could be. I've never experienced anything like it.
Kari and I went there to deliver our own product, EA SPORTS Active. Christi took a picture of the box, the same one that had danced around Matt Lauer's head on the Today Show that morning, and Twittered that she was going to "LUV" this. (SouthwestAir@daddyclaxton I'm going to LUV this! #easactive #guitarhero can't wait to try!!! http://twitpic.com/5gq8v) Again, brand reinforcement on her part. She gets it. It was so smart on her part.
Morgan talked to us about his 533,000 followers on Twitter. That's an amazing number and something he says he's very respectful of. But respectful of Twitter and social media is what these two are all about. They know the power of what they are doing, and they're two of the most fortunate people I know. They're free to move about the country having fun and sharing fun with others.
I'd so love to be on that maiden charter from DAL to LGA on June 28th. It's going to be a fun experience and something wonderful to use the next time I want to go to NYC. More importantly, I'm now pondering how I apply what they're so successful at doing to my own work. I'm hoping when I wake in the a.m. my subconscious will have told me what that answer is.