Highly commended 2018




Lead Agency


Contributing Company



The Challenge

For the last 20 years Star Alliance has taken people on journeys of discovery and enabled cultural connections around the world.

However, regardless of its 28 member carriers and more than 18,450 daily flights to 1,300 airports in 190 countries
— for numerous reasons, the Alliance itself was not being talked about as much as its member airlines were.

At a time when the travel industry is increasingly being defined by younger, more tech-savvy travellers with the power of social media to define and document transformational experiences, Star Alliance played an important supporting role when they could have been the star of the show.

In marking their 20th Anniversary, Star Alliance had an ideal opportunity to play a more leading role. Their ambition
was to highlight the scale and benefit of their network by celebrating the stories of their travellers as well as the connections and adventures the Alliance and its members made possible.

The campaign challenge was threefold:
1) To raise awareness of the first ever Alliance 20th Anniversary celebration
2) To create a unique cultural experience that brought out the Star Alliance member airlines relationship
3) Take viewers on a journey that would help them connect with those respective cultures and truly understand what
a unique local cultural experience would look like

These experiences were meant to be extraordinary, thereby appealing to both business and leisure travellers alike.

The Strategy

National Geographic and The Wall Street Journal came together for the first time in our history to create a content and media partnership with Star Alliance entitled ‘Connecting Cultures’.

The campaign was designed to leverage the best of both publications; combining WSJ’s brand (most credible for 29 years in a row), authoritative voice (39 Pulitzers), WSJ. Custom Studios (120 awards in the past 3 years), and access to influential leaders (reaching 2 in 3 C-Suites globally and 64% of frequent hotel guests), as well as National Geographic’s signature photography, travel expertise, social following (169.5MM+ Facebook followers, #1 media brand- Instagram, #1 Media house – Twitter) and audience (the most readers (9.6 million) driven to explore the world, 76% of whom don’t read any other travel title).

The strategy at the heart of our partnership was to build an experiential, digital and social programme that didn’t just talk about connecting cultures, but actually inspired new adventures that hadn’t been experienced before.
The “Connecting Cultures” campaign began with a worldwide ‘cultural experience’ competition hosted by National Geographic – offering 21 people the chance to become ‘Mileage Millionaires’. Asking audiences to upload and share photos and short description of their favourite cultural experiences, the competition attracted over 59,000 entries around the world- each looking to win one of the biggest prizes in travel history. Every entrant’s experience was
captured and shared on an interactive Cultural Experience Map hosted on the Star Alliance website. This online hub of searchable inspiration and memories was the perfect platform to align Star Alliance with captivating and personal
travel experiences.

Simultaneously, we launched a series of 5 stunning films built around destinations served by the five founding member airlines (Air Canada, Lufthansa, SAS, THAI and United) – each of which offered viewers a unique local cultural experience.

Fronting the film series was Robert Reid, a world-renowned National Geographic travel writer who, for over 20 years, has travelled the globe immersing himself in different cultures, investigating the whys behind how we experience the world and telling interesting, immersive stories that give his audience a new perspective. ‘Connecting Cultures’ saw Reid experience the extraordinary with a series of unique challenges from Muay Thai training in Bangkok to learning survival skills from the Inuit at the edge of the Arctic Circle.

Trailer can be found here: https://vimeo.com/228386063

The video series was amplified using unmissable executions across print, social and digital platforms.

The Implementation

Each of the worldwide ‘cultural experience’ competition entries were housed within a dedicated 20th Anniversary environment on the Star Alliance website as well as promoted using a multi-branded custom hub on National Geographic.

An interactive global map of ‘insider experiences’ was also created to provide inspiration to users whether visiting a new destination or a city they have been to many times before. Please see: http://www.staralliance.com/en/explore?_ga=2.116639046.1525781671.1516124160- 758923165.1507147953

The Connecting Cultures video series, links to the cultural map and information on Star Alliance and its members was housed on a multi-branded custom hub on National Geographic.com –https://www.nationalgeographic.com/staralliance20/

All content was also published within a dedicated 20th Anniversary section on the Star Alliance website.

The video series was released in bursts (trailer https://vimeo.com/228386063, last video in the series can be viewed in full at http://www.staralliance.com/en/culturalexperiences), delivering a different part in the cultural adventure across the duration of the campaign.

The campaign was promoted using highly targeted digital units, native placements and video pre-rolls across The Wall Street Journal Digital Network and National Geographic websites. Advertising units were frequently refreshed to capture audience interest, promote different elements in the series and drive users to the hub.

The campaign was created with a mobile-first focus where all content was designed in HTML5 – providing a seamless experience across multiple media devices and easily promoting social sharing.

We also extended campaign reach and awareness with stunning full print advertisements running in the Asia editions of both The Wall Street Journal and National Geographic.

Both publications leveraged their extensive social following with posts promoting each of the five videos in the series. Robert Reid also captured his fans’ interest with posts across Twitter and Instagram depicting his recent

This was further amplified by Star Alliance and its partner carriers with promotion across their social channels, within the in-flight entertainment systems and on-board magazines.

The Result

Our shared passion for strategic storytelling and cultural exploration captured more than adventures — it also captured the imagination and attention of our audience.

We significantly increased engagement with Star Alliance, dramatically boosted the brand promoter score and were recognised with a Gold Lovie Award, the most prestigious and only truly pan-European award that honours the best of the internet.

A campaign that inspired readers to go on a new adventure and discover unique cultural experiences they never thought were possible
Statistics That Speak For Themselves:

1.3 billion reached globally across all paid, owned and earned channels


Over 6.6 million website visits – Doubling our target
Nearly 60k validated competition entries, generating a rich mapping tool of cultural experiences
3.4 million interactions with mapping tool
2.2 million views of Connecting Cultures films, more than eight times our target
42k likes/comments/shares on Nat Geo’s social posts alone
Gold Lovie Award winner

Brand Impact

Brand equity tracking up 28%
Brand recommendation scores (Net Promoter Score): a 700% increase
Brand impression and Intention to fly scores @ 9 out of 10

Business Effectiveness

120k FFP referrals from the promotion – exceeding our target by 700%