Seattle-based Alaska Airlines is backing a hometown boy, champion speed skater Apolo Ohno, in a promotional campaign, "Follow Apolo." While the carrier is not a sponsor of the Olympics, the relationship leads up to and follows the Olympic Games this February in nearby Vancouver.
Ohno, a five-time Olympic medalist who also has won a championship on "Dancing with the Stars," qualified for next year's games last month.
The campaign, via the Seattle office of the airline's AOR, Wong Doody, centers on FollowApolo.com, a site that track's Ohno's training through the late fall and winter leading up to the games, and includes an exclusive blog for which Ohno will write content once a week. The site is also on one of the airline's planes, which bears a huge image of Ohno in action.
Content about the relationship will also run in Alaska Airline's in-flight magazine, and online banner advertising and outdoor executions running now through February in West Coast states will tout the relationship. Also, in December and January, street teams will distribute things like Ohno signature bandanas and press-on "soul patch" facial hair resembling Ohno's in cities in the Pacific Northwest.
Pat Doody, president of the agency, tells Marketing Daily the site includes a lot of original video content of Ohno, including interviews with him. "He's from this area; he's a pretty big star worldwide in speed skating but he's an even bigger deal in this area because he's a hometown boy," he says. Alaska Airlines has been headquartered in Seattle for a number of years.
Doody says Alaskan Airlines is still running the year-old brand campaign, "North of Expected," in 28 markets. "The Apolo work is in tandem with that, and we think he is consistent with that [brand message]. But they also sort of exist in their own orbits."