TAP Air Portugal – a national carrier – maintains a YouTube Channel. Of all the videos they have posted on the channel, hardly any had crossed the 500 views mark in the past one year. Most are showcasing the latest products and are an extension of the marketing arm. This was the case till four days ago.

On Christmas day, the staff of TAP Portugal and Aeroports de Portugal launched into a spontaneous dance routine which brought a cheer to the Christmas travelers. The performance included a number of popular English songs the staff gooved to, and even  Bollywood number (5:48)! The dance followed an airport announcement for “Flight 000, where only happiness was allowed on-board.”

And guess what? The video now has almost 210,000 views on Youtube in just 4 days! Many times more than all of their previous videos combined. Watch the video for yourself right here. (If you can’t see the video, please click here). The travelers were caught unguarded and joined in the fun!

The power of surprise in social media

So what did TAP Portugal do right this time to make this video go viral? They used the the element of surprise very well.

  1. Surprise is authentic – people relate to it, personally
  2. Surprise is engaging – just watch the old lady groove to the Bollywood number in the dance and you’ll know what I’m talking about (5:50)
  3. Surprise is spontaneous – when things just happen and they don’t seem perfectly planned, others are encouraged to join in spontaneously too. Look at the number of people shooting a video of the performance – and they’ll share it with their friends, who’d share it with theirs
  4. Surprise is not salesy – This was the first time TAP Portugal uploaded a video on YouTube which wasn’t selling something directly to the customer and the result is for all of us to see
  5. Surprise is funny – it makes people happy

Still not convinced? Then check out this viral video, which I think TAP Portugal sought its inspiration from, which used the element of surprise very well, but at a Belgian train station :)

Hope you enjoyed this light-hearted yet though provoking article. I myself watched the videos a few times and brought smiles to my whole family. So please feel free to share. And share your thoughts too, in the comments or on Twitter.

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Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

CEO at SimpliFlying
Shashank Nigam is the CEO of SimpliFlying and a globally sought-after consultant, speaker and thought-leader on airline branding and customer engagement strategy. He is also the youngest winner of the Global Brand Leadership Award and has addressed senior aviation executives globally, from Chile to Canada and from Sydney to San Francisco.

Shashank's perspectives have found their way into major media outlets, including CNN Travel, CNBC, MSNBC, Bloomberg UTV, Mashable and in leading publications like Airline Business, ATW, Aviation Week, and others.

Shashank studied Information Systems Management and Business Management at Singapore Management University and Carnegie Mellon University. Hailing from India, he splits his time between Singapore and Vancouver, among other cities.
Shashank Nigam
Shashank Nigam
  • oussama

    The Power of Fun, surprise is a great way to launch it. It is the fun factor involved in the TAP or train station routine that engaged the passengers. The spontaneity of the action that brought up the humorous and fun loving side of these passengers as evidenced by their interaction. We know it works, Southwest Airlines have been doing it for 3 decades. SWA uses surprise to launch that power at every passenger touch point in their customer journey. The passenger knows it and expects but the surprise is how, when and where.
    At these stressful times more and more airlines should engage in the Power of Fun and surprise their passengers.

  • oussama

    The Power of Fun, surprise is a great way to launch it. It is the fun factor involved in the TAP or train station routine that engaged the passengers. The spontaneity of the action that brought up the humorous and fun loving side of these passengers as evidenced by their interaction. We know it works, Southwest Airlines have been doing it for 3 decades. SWA uses surprise to launch that power at every passenger touch point in their customer journey. The passenger knows it and expects but the surprise is how, when and where.
    At these stressful times more and more airlines should engage in the Power of Fun and surprise their passengers.

  • DaveMcConnell

    Flashmob lite. Yea.

    I guess some people haven't seen these yet.

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  • http://FacingTheStreet.blogspot.com/ Laura Byrne Paquet

    Thanks for sharing this! I wrote a short post on my own blog (giving credit to Simpliflying.com for the lead) at http://facingthestreet.blogspot.com/2010/01/dancers-liven-up-lisbon-airport.html

  • luluhappiness

    Very inspirational, I love how everyone comes together to join in on the fun….so nice to see something like that come to life and not just in the movies….

  • http://buhlerworks.com/wordpress JEBworks

    The first criteria you mention is for me the most important in any social media activity – authenticity. The rest follows from that and for companies a key element also mentioned is that for something like this video to go viral it simply cannot be a sales piece. People are just too tired of being pitched all the time, most of all on social networks. The numbers are proof of that.

  • William Rathert

    Great video! This just goes to show that you can’t beat creativity and good old fun to create interest and brand appreciation….

  • Jonathan Moody

    A mobile brand did something similar at London’s Liverpool street station last January – in the depths of mid winter and the recession. These things are great for a short term buzz but with repitition lose their allure. To what extent will people associate the sense of fun with either TAP or Aeroportos de Portugal?

  • Fernanda Graeff

    T Mobile is a good example. It promotes a karaoke in Trafalgar Square with much success. For me, it was one of the best flashmob that I ever saw. Take a look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orukqxeWmM0

  • Jocelyn McCall Ferreira

    This initiative by TAP and ANA – aeroportos de Portugal is an excellent example to approach passengers and create brand awareness (although perhaps not enough for ANA!!!) but i wouldn’t go as far as saying that they have uncovered the secret of surprise.

    Flashmoob videos have been appearing for a while on youtube such as Antwerp’s Central Station in Belgium, tributes to Michael Jackson, Trident chewing gum, mobile phone companies etc.

    This is hardly something new, but it is effective and the public enjoy it both present and online, or why else would 753188 people take the time out to view TAP/ANAs video over Xmas and then another 51050 to view the second take over New Year.

    So to answer your question it can be duplicated, but i don’t think it should be duplicated by the same company as you can see from the impact take 2 of TAP/ANA’s video had (regarding views).

    Regs

  • Luis S. Francisco

    Ola Shashank, as Portuguese I thank you for your post.
    I fully agree with Jocelyn’s conclusion.
    Surprise is the key element. That’s why there was such a “décalage” between the 2 videos.
    Besides being the first, the x-mas time show was at 7 AM… Imagine the impact on travelers.
    Instead of duplicate it’s important to continuously renovate the “power of surprise” with other actions!
    Jocelyn, I’m available for providing ideas and to implement them… that’s my job… he he..
    Take care
    Brgrds
    Luis Francisco

  • Albert Pérez

    Hi, check Vueling christmas ecard

    http://www.vuelingtogether.com

    Saludos.

  • David Galea

    Absolutely brilliant… though i like these ‘flashmob’ dances i have to admit i admire Vueling more as it is evident that they used their own people, and not pro dancers …. bueno, bueno e muy beuno…

  • Roisin Markham

    hanks Shashank for the post, I enjoyed it. A few associates have been trying [too hard] to create a viral campaign so I have forwarded your blog post to them.
    It looks like it has been duplicated from the Belguim example.
    I immediately started thinking what it would be like to replicate this as a team building excercise for large corporations for internal customers, in the canteen or lobby.
    It also reminded me of the power of sound, movement and real people interacting.
    Regards and Happy New Year.
    Roisin

  • Henry Woodman

    Yes, it can be duplicated – it was very well done, nice creative!

  • Kathi Apostolidis

    It is a very good example of making prospects talk about your product/service. It looks (I am sure there are hours of rehearsals behind) spontaneous, natural, joy, and people can easily identify with it, and then, want to talk about it.

    I have another example from the non-profit sector, the Pink Glove Dance ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEdVfyt-mLw ) when all, I mean all from oncologist surgeon to cleaner, staff of a USA hospital celebrated the Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October) with a pink glove dance from the reception to the operating rooms. Result: more than 6million views in youtube in three months. Watch the video and I am sure you get the marketing plus advocacy message.

    If you have any other examples of innovative marketing let us know.

  • MADHAVAN

    Marketing is about attracting attention, creating excitement among the masses and communicating the message – TAP Portugal celebrating the holiday mood LIVE with its customers.

    These days with internet technologies and user friendly tools like youtube, Marketeers can reach out to larger audiences at their convenience and comfort. TAP Portugal not only did a fantastic job with people present at the airport but it was a brilliant idea to take this video to people (millions) who now can virtually experience the fun n frolic.

    Inarguably Video Marketing is a great phenomenon in this century. I feel this way is very compeling, feverish and touchy where you are able to directly establishing the connection with people. Almost like word-of-mouth!

    This was well planned and executed! There will be greater marvels in Video Marketing in coming times… wait n watch.

    Cheers!
    Maddy

  • David Bentley

    Definitely entertaining. I’d give a lot more credibility to this as a method of generating interest than endless ramblings on Twitter.

  • Andrzej Kawalek

    looks likes organized flash mob but seems that they really reached what they wanted in the creative way

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