Air Asia Berhad Group Branding Awareness: Facebook Marketing Campaign to Promote Free Flight

chrgomes    November 13, 2014

Organization Name: Air Asia/Air Asia Berhad Group

Industry: Travel/Transportation

Web References:,

Description of how social media is used for business performance:

Air Asia Berhad Group is a Malaysian low-cost airline company headquartered near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Air Asia Berhad Group operates a schedule domestic and international flights to 100 destinations spanning 22 countries. The company’s main hub located at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). Affiliate airlines carriers includes, Thai Air Asia, Indonesia Air Asia, Philippines Air Asia, Air Asia Zestand, and Air Asia India. As well, affiliates hubs at Don Mueang International Airport, Soekarno–Hatta International Airport, Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Kempegowda International Airport respectively. While its subsidiary, Air Asia X focusing on long-haul routes. Air Asia’s registered office is in Petaling Jaya, Selangor while its head office is at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Air Asia was established in 1994 and began operations on  November 18 1996. It was originally founded by a government-owned conglomerate, Drb-Hicom. On December 2 2001, the heavily indebted airline was bought by former Time Warner executive Tony Fernandes’ company Tune Air Sdn Bhd for the token sum of one Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) currency plus $40 million MYR worth of debts. The incoming director, Tony Fernandes turned the company around and produced a healthy profit in 2002. Later launched new travel routes from Kuala Lumpur to other Asian countries, undercutting former monopoly operator Malaysia Airlines with promotional fares as low as $1 MYR value. In 2003, Air Asia opened a second hub at Senai International Airport in Johor Bahru near Singapore and launched its first international flight to Bangkok.

At the end of the fiscal year for 2006, Tony Fernandes unveiled a five-year plan to further enhance Air Asia’s presence in Asian – Pacific region. Under the plan, Air Asia proposed strengthening and enhancing its route network by connecting all of its the existing destinations throughout the region and expanding further into Vietnam, Indonesia, Southern China (Kunming, Xiamen, and Shenzhen) and India. Through its sister companies, Thai Air Asia and Indonesia Air Asia, the plan called for a focus on developing its hub in Bangkok and Jakarta. With increased frequency and the addition of new routes, Air Asia increased passenger volume to 13.9 million in its 2007 fiscal year.

In April 2012, Air Asia Berhad Group celebrated the flight travel launch into the Australia market. With very little consumer awareness in this Air Asia brand especially in a very new and fiercely competitive market. Air Asia Berhad Group were at a disadvantage as to how to promote the brand awareness and how to effectively market the Air Asia brand in the Australia market.

The Air Asia Berhad Group marketing team was looking to a full brand awareness launch and promotional marketing objective to display Air Asia presence in Australia. The first initial phase was to advertise and promote the brand and its flight service availability with seven flights per week. With the ultimate goal of double daily flights within two years from the launch of brand awareness and promotional marketing objectives.

Air Asia Berhad Group relied on its marketing team with collaboration of Facebook for Business to socially engage and effectively advertise its brand awareness and promotional marketing efforts. The marketing team was tasked with creating a strong and effective marketing campaign to promote the Air Asia brand and its presence in Australia market. The marketing team created a Facebook app that would allow one lucky Facebook fan a chance to fly an Air Asia Fleet Airbus A330 plane, along with 302 of their Facebook Friends for the trip for free. The specially reserved flight would take their entourage from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur, where they would then spend three nights with accommodation paid for by Air Asia, before returning home on their private plane.

Lessons for others:

Air Asia Berhad Group and its marketing team took the opportunity to use the Facebook For Business and Air Asia Friendsy Facebook app platforms. With over 1 billion active users, it is pretty clear that Facebook has become a cost effective marketing platform for every marketer to be advertising on or at the very least have some sort of viable presence. By having a brand awareness and marketing advertisement placement on Facebook can be both feasible and cost-certain for any business looking promote and build a brand. Facebook For Business can be very effect marketing tool as follows:

  • Don’t use Facebook for the ‘hard sell’.

People regard Facebook as a fun social space where they chat to friends, check out photos and videos, and relax. Join conversations and become part of a community, rather than being a business ‘outsider’ who tries to sell aggressively.

Hard-sell tactics – such as using advertising slogans, posting repeatedly about a particular product or service, or providing lists of products and prices in isolation from any related conversation, will result in other users ‘unfollowing’ you. They may even post negative comments about your business.

  • Have a clear goal and strategy

It’s important to have a clear goal for using Facebook, and a strategy to achieve that goal. For example, a coffee shop might decide that its goal is to increase sales generated by Facebook by 10% in the next 6 months. Their strategy could include:

  • creating a post every morning featuring a special of the day, using a coupon code so that the sale can be tracked to Facebook
  • posting a daily photo featuring a customer who is its ‘Coffee King or Queen’ of the day
  • encouraging users to post their own photos of them enjoying a coffee.

Setting a goal and strategy gives you direction for your Facebook marketing and a way to measure your success.

  • Create a human voice for your business.

Facebook users like to talk to other people, not to an impersonal business. Whoever manages your Facebook page must be able to write in a voice that sounds real and likeable, using a style that suits your business. They also need permission to express things in their own words, not in the company’s jargon or official line.

  • Post regularly.

Unlike traditional media (such as magazines or television), or other online media (such as web pages), social media are built around frequent updates.

Statistics show that around 50% of all Facebook users check their page at least once a day, and they need to see that you are regularly posting new material. Some guides recommends posting at least once a day, but the core principles are to post when you have interesting content, and to judge how often your audience wants to hear from you.

  • Encourage comments and reply quickly.

Encourage other Facebook users to respond to your posts or to post their own comments about your business or a topic that’s of interest to them and you. When they do post, respond quickly, within 24 hours is best. Failing to respond will weaken your Facebook friends’ willingness to engage with you, and they will gradually drift away.

  • Use pictures and videos.

Pictures and videos are a major element of Facebook’s appeal. Use them frequently to keep your friends engaged and entertained. For example:

  • a clothing retailer could post photos of new stock as it arrives
  • an architect or builder could post day-by-day pictures of a house under renovation
  • a personal trainer could post an instructional video of how to do a particular exercise.

Get interactive with offers, contests, games, surveys, etc. People like it when Facebook is fun, and when it delivers something that they can’t get any other way.

Research shows that discounts and giveaways are the most popular reason for a customer to follow a business’s Facebook page. Likewise, contests and games can be used to liven up your page.

  • Nurture your relationships.

It takes time to build good relationships with other Facebook users, so be patient. Engage sincerely in conversations, provide useful content, and develop rewards for loyal customers to help foster positive relationships.

  • Promote your Facebook page.

If you have a Facebook page, promote it throughout your business so that your social media works hand-in-hand with more traditional marketing methods. Provide your Facebook address on your letterhead, business card and website, in store, in advertisements, and in your email signature.

  • Use Facebook Insights to learn more about your customers.

Facebook Insights can tell you more about the people who choose to like your page. Once you know your Facebook friends’ characteristics, you can tailor your posts and offers to meet their needs and interests.

For example, if you’re a book store that caters to customers of all ages, but most of your Facebook friends are aged 18-25 years, your Facebook offers might concentrate on books suitable for that age group (while your in-store offers are broader). Or, if you’re an online seller who never meets your customers, you might be able to get a clearer picture of what they think and feel by reviewing their interests, ages and locations on Facebook.

The Air Asia campaign was launch on April 10, 2012 with Facebook Ads, a highlight Page post, new cover image and video post promoting this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A variety of Page posts were made throughout the campaign encouraging fans to join in the fun.

The Air Asia Marketing Challenge:

  • Build a Facebook app that allows users to drag and drop up to 302 friends into specific plane seats.
  • Tag up to 50 friends and output a tagged image of the number of seats the user has filled.
  • Save all entries with the ability for the client to review every entry, total number of entries, and ultimately choose a winner.

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Air Asia Friendsy (Source: YouTube)

The Air Asia Marketing Outcome:

Within the two days of being live, the contest had more than 4,000 users. As of May 15, 2012, there were more than 11,000 completed entries and the contest increased the Facebook page by 20,000 “Likes”.

The campaign went viral very quickly spread across all major social networking sites and soon enough the media began reporting about this once in a lifetime opportunity. According to CNN, it was “the biggest Facebook friendship test ever conceived”. It grew from local, to national to international news, generating Public Relation (PR) value of $1,627,593 on a $80,000 marketing campaign.

“We believe this competition to win a flight, sets us apart from what the competition has ever done in Australia,”

– AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani.

The campaign grew the Air Asia Facebook fan base by 30%. The competition received 12,500 entries and reached 2,291,483 people on Facebook, which is a whopping 20% of Australians using Facebook.

As for the Air Asia Berhad Group, they have achieved an average 82.5% load factor on all Sydney routes. This result was unprecedented for an Air Asia Berhad Group route launch, and the Air Asia Berhad Group were unexpectedly thrilled with the outcome. In addition, Air Asia Berhad Group has reported that they are on track to move to double daily flights in Sydney in mid-2013. By early 2013, Air Asia saw a steep increase in its profitability. The year-over-year comparison had shown a 168% increase in profits versus the same period in 2012.

The Return of Investment (ROI) is quite immeasurable, but for an $80,000 marketing campaign, plus the cost of the prize, the Air Asia Friendsy Facebook app campaign for Air Asia Berhad Group has paid the Air Asia airline extremely handsome in both short and long-term prospects in the long run.


AirAsia’s Social Media Campaign: Where’s Simplicity? By Roderick Low

7 Ways to Use Facebook for Marketing By Megan Marrs

Air Asia Give Away A Plane Marketing Campaign – Air Asia Press Release

Air Asia Gives Away Entire Plane Flight To Asia

Top 10 Benefits of a Facebook Business Page By Scott Ayres

Facebook For Business – Qwaya Article

Air Asia – Facebook Business Page

Air Asia – YouTube Channel

Facebook For Business

Submitted By: Chris Gomes – SMBP Student, University of Waterloo.

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If you have any concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.