Airline using SMS to let viewers control what happens on LED board

May 22, 2009 by Dave Haynes

As noticed in James Van Etten’s Clippings emailer …

Air New Zealand, reads a press release, announces the nation’s first human interactive billboard controlled entirely by mobile users to promote the Los Angeles to London roundtrip fares starting at $599*. The digital billboard projection launches May 21 starting at 9:30 p.m. at the Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles and will feature a 1970s-era airline pilot holding a sign that reads “TXT WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO 310310.”

The 1970s-era airline pilot character will respond to more than 150 different text commands including eating fruit, moon walking or even attempting to strip. The character responds with quirky text messages inviting users to enter the “reLAX to London” sweepstakes.

“Air New Zealand is hoping to defy the one-way communication of traditional advertising by inviting conversation,” said Roger Poulton, Air New Zealand vice president – the Americas. “We are open to any medium that allows customers to interact with us in a way that’s meaningful – whether that’s through an iPhone application, body painted employees, our ‘cranial billboards,’ themed flights, and now our first human interactive billboard.”

I have my doubts this is the first time somebody has done anything like this, but regardless, it is clever and eye-catching. What’s slightly odd is the campaign, started yesterday, seems to have a very short shelf life and will move around from one board to another this weekend. I suppose it may be a cost thing, since to make this impactful this campaign has to run full-time and not be part of a rotation.

Doubt it was cheap, but Air NZ has also got itself a bunch of attention from people like me.


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