A global alliance between Lufthansa Cargo (LH Cargo), the world’s largest air freight carrier, SIA Cargo, the world’s number three, and SAS Cargo, clear leader in Scandinavia (referred to as the Scandinavian “giant”) was planned since September 2000.

After one year of preparations behind the curtains, the alliance planned to launch with one harmonized product (Premium Express) under the brand name “WOW” on October 1st, 2001. Events of September 11 changed those plans – the launch was postponed for six months.

The brief was to create awareness around the launch of a leading airfreight carrier alliance through integrated marketing communications. The leading competitor, SkyTeam (the Cargo alliance), is very similar in size when measuring hard facts such as destinations, fleet size and freight shipped, and the balance could easily be tipped by adding an extra carrier to one of the alliances. We have therefore avoided head to head competition on this front. Rather, we wanted to use the track record of the three airlines in defining leadership: each of the carriers is a leader in its own right, whether worldwide leadership (as for LH Cargo) or only in a limited geographical area (as for SAS). This is encapsulated in our positioning “the best just got better”.

The Ogilvy team chose to recommend a 360˚ campaign. The brand’s values were to be consistently communicated through every touch point with the consumer: from point-of-sale posters, to print advertising and direct mailers. The brief’s conditions were of course ideal: Creating awareness about a new brand. Ogilvy could start from scratch, with no existing websites and brochures to adapt from. Wolf Ollins provided basic WOW guidelines. And another big advantage: having a Client who, despite consisting of three companies with very strong individual company cultures, was open to try something new and bold for the industry.

The brand name “WOW” was an exciting choice in itself. The philosophy behind the name is to over-deliver on expectations – to make people go “WOW” every time. Some examples of how we used the word “WOW!” with all its emotional impact in our communications:

One ant can lift 50 times its body weight. Imagine what 3 can do. WOW! (launch advertising)

Three products. One promise. WOW! (introducing a harmonised express product, which sets new standards for product guarantees in the industry)

“Give me a place to stand and I will move the world”. WOW! (quote: Archimedes, on the front cover of corporate compendium).

Our strategy is based on the principles of differential marketing. Customers are not created equal. Communications should reflect this. Communication dollars should be channelled towards customers, which are most likely to give a high return on your investment. For the launch campaign, three different customer segments were defined: Top 10 customers (10 from each carrier), Top 1,000 customers and 10,000 customers.

Top 10 customers of the three airlines were courier-delivered a large wooden box with the dimensions of approx. 50x50x65cm. Upon opening the box, the WOW-factor kicked in: the lid activates battery-powered lights with the brand name and a “triple guarantee” promise flashing in colours. A letter and a corporate compendium refers recipients to the details of the triple guarantee, which is given to the alliance’s first common product: Premium Express.

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Top 1,000 customers of the alliance were given the same corporate compendium in a nice box the size of a pizza supreme delivery box. Inside, as a give-away, was a wooden stand for the brochure, which doubles as a letter or business card holder and photo stand. In both the Top 10 and the mid size customer mailing, postcards with the images of the ad campaign were again added. This was done in order to profit from the multiplier effect that postcards can have when sent to colleagues – reinforcing the advertising campaign, but also to give our best customers early notice to what we were going to do in the media.

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10,000 customers group were sent a flat mailer with a leaflet. This mailer contained a response device, where recipients could request the large hard cover corporate compendium for more information.

In all communications, drive to web was an important factor. On short to mid-term, the web will be a major channel, as booking online will inevitably be a future trend in the industry. Accustoming customers to go to the WOW website is already today one of our communication objectives. The website was also developed by the Ogilvy team. At the launch stage, the web contains brochure ware, with a WOW screen-saver for downloading as a freebie.

The advertising campaign supports the power of three – whilst avoiding the clichés. Our trade press advertising has a fresh look – it clearly stands out from the forklifts and open nosed air freighters, which dominate the category.

One very important target audience when launching an alliance is the internal audience: the employees. Information about the new alliance and the brand were highlighted. Product specific questions were answered and lots of other questions regarding “how will the alliance affect me” were addressed in a Straits Time-sized newspaper: stories, again delivered boldly.

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The newspaper was delivered by company mail in a box. Employees would find the box stating “WOW and you” on their desk on the day of the press conference. Apart from the newspaper, the box contained a letter from the three CEOs and a baseball cap with the WOW logo in six different colours. Employees started to exchange the different coloured baseball hats and high demand for the caps was expressed. Within Lufthansa, employees asked whether the WOW caps could become a part of their uniform. An immediate board decision was taken and since then, WOW caps have become a part of the official Lufthansa Cargo uniform.

A large number of other things were produced in support of the launch: large outdoor banners, which were put up at three airports at a very visible spot (up to 15x25m in size), posters as POS material, giveaways, power point presentations – too many to describe in detail.


A young brand with a very strong brand look after just a few weeks of the launch due to one agency and one integrated team, handpicked from various disciplines, handling all communications in a 360-way.

Results complied by Webtrends. (Respected server log analytics tool)

March 14th 2002 till March 31st 2002 (First 2 weeks of the Campaign)

9% of universe (10,000) was Unique users (75% of which went into the website without referrals-typed in URL Address directly)

1730 visits

5167 page views

This is considered extraordinary because the only publicity for www.wowtheworld.com was in the direct mail. Not only did people visit the site once, but also they returned (estimate 2 visits per user)

Visitors did not leave automatically from the Home Page, surfing 2/3 pages deep.

This is almost a 9% response and augurs well for future use of the web for ongoing communications.


Significant press coverage from all the respective trade publications throughout Europe. Particular and specific mention of the high impact marketing campaign (Our Creative Director was mentioned by name in various publications.)


7 phone calls were received from recipients of the Crate Mailing (Top 10 Customers from each carrier) saying how “WOWed” they were by the delivery.

3% of 10,000-customer group returned their Action Forms, requesting for the Corporate Compendium.

Feedback from client – Mr Jens Rode from Strategic Airline Alliances:

Feedback from the client was very positive. He felt that the campaign was very effective as external audience such as the media and public who became aware about the campaign, were writing about the campaign and talking about it. Internal communications worked well with the employees who appreciated the efforts made to let them understand the alliance better.

The client felt that OgilvyOne delivered 100% in terms of development, logic and processes to create an interlinked communications strategy. He felt that it was a best practice showcase as OgilvyOne was able to cope with the cultural aspects of the three different airline partners to deliver this campaign.

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