How Delta’s gamification contest reached the hearts of New Yorkers

The Red Coats were coming! Only this time to the Big Apple, not Boston. Read about a citywide search game that heightened the airline’s presence virtually and physically.

Influencer marketing has become convoluted and confusing. The gist of what we want to do as marketers is to make a lasting connection with consumers through fans of our brand.

Influencers are everywhere. They are your brand’s best storytellers. They can be employees of your brand who have yet to have a voice, the person who grows the produce for your line of grocery items, or the passionate consumer who touts your product of their own accord (think the Nutella girl).

Influencers are not just super tweeters with a lot of followers or bloggers with a ton of traffic. Both online and offline, true influencers actually like your brand and promote it in an authentic way because their passion is genuine.

BoomBox in New York looked outside the box and activated average New Yorkers and Delta Airlines employees as influencers.

Delta’s goal

Delta’s goal was simple in theory but challenging to execute: They wanted to create a lasting impression that would keep Delta on the minds of New Yorkers as the “go to” airline.

Why a focus on New York City? It’s the largest hub in the country.

In order to connect in an authentic way with consumers, a good marketer must get real people talking about the brand—not just paid influencers with a huge social reach.

BoomBox decided to emphasize their flight attendants—or Red Coats, as Delta calls them—and set up the Red Coat Challenge.

Gamification isn’t just for kids

BoomBox has a knack for using gamification tactics. To connect Delta with New Yorkers and emphasize a human component of the Delta brand, BoomBox hid Red Coats all over the city.

For six weeks, locals tried to locate the Red Coats through geo-coordinates and photo clues that Delta released digitally throughout the day. Players raced all over New York City to try to find the Red Coat. They had to share their progress on social media—a bonus for Delta’s online presence and awareness.

Winners were given a free trip on a chartered/catered flight from New York to Los Angeles. Even the prize perpetuated Delta’s friendly image. Brilliant.

New Yorkers had fun hunting for the Red Coats, it was a local event, and it made participants happy. When consumers are comfortable and familiar with a brand, they are more likely to choose it. Tie it all together and now to New Yorkers, Delta rocks.

The reach

Delta had reached more than 70 million people via Twitter and had over 180,000 direct interactions through this contest. Add to those engagement numbers the ongoing emotional connection with Delta’s target group, and it shows this campaign to have been a huge success.

Kristen Matthews is the marketing and community manager at GroupHigh. Contact her at or follow her on Twitter on @KristenWords and @GroupHigh. A version of this article first appeared on Convince & Convert.

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