The aviation industry changed dramatically after 9/11 with pilot training coming to a virtual halt which resulted in a deficit of qualified pilots today. Major carriers offer higher salaries, more robust compensation packages, and proven stability making the recruitment marketplace aggressively competitive. Our challenge is attracting the right talent to a small regional/vacation destination airline.
Marketing & Branding Strategy
Social Media Strategy/Launch
Sun Country Airlines
B2C / B2B
Having just been purchased out of bankruptcy by Apollo Global Management, Sun Country was facing a pilot shortage, a shift in corporate culture, and an unclear identity all at once. With new management Sun Country’s growth plans were aggressive, but none of them would be possible without securing pilots. Our charge – define the brand and attract pilots.
Through the discovery phase of interviews and competitive research, it was revealed that there was a pilot talent pool that demanded an authentic work/life balance. As a small airline, Sun Country valued that and could use their culture as an asset for recruitment. The “Fly at the speed of life.”™ campaign was created to resonate with current and future pilots seeking the flexibility that Sun Country had to offer.
After redefining the Sun Country value proposition, a new brand standard was created to bring their updated brand to life. A marketing roadmap was strategized for launch with messaging and visual assets created to help recruiters. A website was designed and developed to engage and educate, supported by paid promotion through a digital-first recruitment campaign to attract pilots at different points. Ads were placed on trade networks to drive awareness and engagement around Sun Country’s growth. Pilots were then retargeted on their preferred social network to keep Sun Country top of mind.
We started with a comprehensive competitive analysis and conversations with both the new management team and pilots in all stages in their careers. Unlike major airlines, at Sun Country pilots could become a captain in 2 years as well as fly a Boeing 737-800 – attractive to many that were interviewed. Pilots consistently selected this airline for employment because of the work/life balance and destinations offered.
“Fly at the speed of life” was the tagline created to capture the experience of both consumers and pilots flying with Sun Country Airlines.
Poster Series and Billboards
The Boeing 737-800, the airline’s greatest asset according to pilots, was paired with lifestyle imagery to showcase the Sun Country work/life balance.
Visuals were used alongside insights from the focus groups to support recruitment teams in reaching pilots in impactful ways.
Website Design and Development
We designed and built a digital experience that helped support all developed recruitment material.
Events And Earned Media
In-person recruitment events at universities were structured and orchestrated using the new campaign to attract young pilots to the company. Public relations was used as a tool to engage press and report on new programs Sun Country Airlines was developing to entice new pilots to the airline.
Fly at the speed of life.
New Pilot Acquisition
The airline rolled out the campaign at the University of North Dakota and Minnesota State University Mankato as the initial recruitment touchpoints. Over 200 students and instructors attended each event resulting in major publications in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area picking up the story for earned media placement upwards of 5M impressions. The airline continues to use the campaign after seeing 18 months of success.
"Fly at the speed of life" made it's way into mainstream media, connecting Sun Country Airlines with vacation travel. Digital ad placements saw over 1% CTR, with a blended 45% conversion across ad platforms.
Credits: The Team
Creative Director: Kris Growcott
Strategic Planning Director: Miles Marmo
Account Director: Brent Marmo
Designer: Mike Berg