FinnAir, Republic Day & Why Celebration Is The Best Marketing Strategy

A few weeks ago it was my birthday. The day before on a Saturday morning, my two boys came leaping into our room very excited to wake me up. It wasn't so much about my birthday, unfortunately, as it was about getting ready to do their favourite thing on a Saturday morning: going to IHOP for pancakes. And when there is a birthday involved, it is an even bigger deal. Your birthday is a celebration there. They bring over at least 6 of the wait staff to sing their own version of the birthday song to you. You get ice cream for breakfast (what kid wouldn't love that?).

People love celebrations – and they love to be at the center of attention. Birthdays are easy. Probably any restaurant would do something special for your birthday. But what about the moments that people forget to celebrate? 3 days ago was the first day of the Chinese New Year. It is the Year of the Dragon. What did your business do to celebrate? Unless you happen to be Chinese, probably nothing. 

Life and culture gives us plenty of moments to celebrate, but often we let them pass without doing anything. If we could, however, it would be an unexpected delight. Today FinnAir offered a perfect example of that – as they filmed and posted a video on YouTube of their cabin staff performing a surprise Bollywood dance on a flight from Helskinki to India in celebration of India's Republic Day:

South Asians and anyone with a passion for India (or marketing) have been sharing this on Facebook and talking about it all day today. It is going what you might call "micro-viral." In other words, it is going viral among the exact small target community that a marketing team should care most about – people highly likely to travel to Southeast Asia. The timing is perfect too, as one of the things that many South Asian families start to think about at the beginning of the year is planning their travel for the rest of the year. And flights to India get booked far in advance.

So this surprise dance has a potentially beautiful marketing payoff – to get people who are considering travel to India later in the year to consider using FinnAir to get there. As of now the video only has a few thousand views. Perhaps it will never get a million or more. But by offering an unexpected celebration, they have positioned their brand as one that offers a connection to India (literally and figuratively). My guess is that it is already paying off.

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