Cheeky Ambush Marketing…High-Fiving Great Whites and a Bit of ‘Footie’…
Just back from our Maverick EPIC excursion to South Africa for World Cup, Safari and cage diving with sharks. Pretty awesome! I caught up with the group on the second part of the trip because I didn’t want to miss Zoe’s 3rd birthday. Here is my little princess awaiting her cupcake with Zak eagerly eyeing them from afar…
I hung out with Zo-zoz and then took a red-eye over to London and then hot tailed it over to Cape Town the next day to join everyone else.
By the time I got there I had seen all sorts of photos and videos on Facebook from the Safari at Sir Richard Branson’s Lodge in Ulusaba. The guys were literally feet away from animals and had lots of stories about hippos and leopards nearly taking them out. What’s more, I unfortunately missed a day of teaching the Maverick members conducted at the Branson School of Entrepreneurship in Jo’burg.
But as soon as I landed in Cape Town the adventure started in full swing for me with a scenic helicopter tour taking us out to the Cape of Good Hope and beyond. (Though I have to admit I did fall asleep a few times in the helicopter. The funny thing is I’ve been on one 3 times and have fallen asleep now twice. Hmmm….forgot Ambiens – just get me to a chopper.) Take a look at this amazing landscape of the Cape before I dozed off:
Later in the afternoon it was off to Table Mountain, which gets its name from its distinctive flat top. Overlooking Cape Town, it’s certainly one of the most distinctive features of the city. And, as Mavericks do, we decided to give it a little adrenaline boost by abseiling (or rappelling) off the summit. Billed as one of the highest commercial abseils in the world, you’ve got a solid 112m (about 350 feet) drop. It was great to see some of the members who had never done this before have the confidence to lean all the way back and let their hands go for their “pre-departure” pics.
As you can tell from the picture here it’s a long way down – especially when there was a little surprise in store for many of us who didn’t see the big drop-off.
The next day was one of the marquee experiences with a Great White cage dive. We literally came face-to-face with one of the most unforgettable and terrifying creatures on the planet in their own environment. A close encounter with a Great White shark is something that will be indelibly imprinted in your mind forever.
We were taken about 20 minutes off-shore to “shark alley” where we dropped anchor and started chumming the water. Of course, during the safety briefing they emphasized to keep your hands and legs inside the cage but somebody had other ideas…
The cages were actually a lot smaller and a lot thinner steel than I would have imagined. Of course, some of the guys started mentioning how on YouTube they saw all sorts of Great Whites chewing through steel cages. Nice!
Maverick member Craig Handley got this sweet shot of a shark actually attacking the fake seal they use to lure in the Great Whites.
The sharks were literally within inches at some points, and one time I couldn’t help myself but give him a little quick High-Five on his fin. I don’t think the shark really enjoyed that because he turned around, bit a buoy by Craig’s foot and gave the cage a little ram to let us know who was boss.
There’s a bit of a back story to this, and it all started about 3 years ago on our first ever Maverick experience in Baja when we went gray whale watching in San Ignacio. All the brochures showed people touching the whale. I wanted to do that but I never got the chance. It became one of the running jokes – but this was my redemption!
The next day was definitely one of the highlights with us hitting the finals of World Cup with Netherlands v. Spain in Soccer City. The gang really got into the spirit with a lot of us going for costumes supporting our favorite squad.
It was a pretty evenly split group with very random reasons for cheering on one country over another. For me, I love Amsterdam so I had to go with Oranje. For other members, it was equally as capricious with Susan Hill deciding the Spanish men were hotter than the Dutch – hence her support for Espana. Tony Ricciardi really stepped up the game when he bought some wonderful bikini brief underwear with South Africa emblazoned on the backside. I think it made us look like super heroes (or just goofballs):
We did have a ton of people wanting to get pictures with us at the stadium and that’s a pretty good showing considering some of the other awesome costumes we saw. Everything from neon orange tuxes to big, furry orange overcoats. I have no idea where these Holland fans find this stuff – but man, were they into it.
I had followed the World Cup at home watching most of the games and some of the biggest news was the annoying vuvuzelas. On TV it sounds like an angry swarm of bees incessantly buzzing. But in person it wasn’t too bad. I had some ear plugs all ready but didn’t need them. In fact, there is some good rhythm to people playing them and it made the atmosphere that much more unique.
I tried to make sure I soaked in every second inside Soccer City. It was so cool to have gone from watching and following the World Cup online to actually being there in person for the finals. Plus, I’m excited that this adventure also got 2 more items checked off my Ultimate Big Life List.
I think this picture about says it all for the flight back to Cape Town. I think we arrived at like 5:30 in the morning…and after being up nearly 24 hours everybody was all tuckered out! Ahhh!!!
I have to mention the airline we flew on – Kulula. I’d never heard of them before but they’ve got some fabulous marketing. Some serious personality and fun built into their business. So here’s a marketing lesson…
Cheeky Ambush Marketing
Kulula Airlines is one of the low-cost airlines in South Africa and they definitely don’t take themselves too seriously. They had everyone laughing during the pre-flight safety briefing, talking about how there are special seats with more leg-room off the wing if they dismantle or tamper with the smoke detectors in the lav, etc. Really good stuff. I remember when SouthWest Airlines was getting accolades for their witty service – but these guys take the cake.
Here’s a video of what an announcement is like on this flight:
What’s more, the airline uses their actual planes to get people talking. I immediately noticed this airplane out on the runway and had to photograph it. It’s their “flying 101” scheme with arrows and witty copy pointed to different parts of the plane. Here are just a few of the call-outs:
- black box (which is actually orange)
- landing gear (comes standard with supa-fly mags)
- tail (featuring an awesome logo)
- loo (or mile-high club initiation chamber)
- co-captain (the other pilot on the PA system
This is a perfect example of Astonishment Architecture™ put into place before you have an interaction with the customer. This was such a unique design that literally hundreds of thousands of people (or millions, according to other web sites) had seen the plane. It got the conversation going and propelled it – which is exactly what you can do by doing things a little differently.
Another big marketing bonanza for them was entering the conversation already going on inside the heads of everyone around South Africa during World Cup time. Here’s their full-page ad with the event-that-must-not-be-named:
This was, I’m sure, a calculated marketing push by the airline which they thought may draw the ire of FIFA for trying to ambush or sidestep one of their official sponsors or profit from the World Cup on the sly. And that’s exactly what happened with threatened legal action – which only poured more gasoline on the fire for even more publicity. Kulula then took it a step further and publicly “apologized”. And in their peace offering they said they’d fly Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president all around the country for free.
The next wrinkle was Kulula “found” a boston terrier named “Sepp Blatter” and has consequently flown him around the country.
Then their next strike was a follow-up ad to make sure there was no possible inference to the World Cup but it definitely was in their cheeky sort of way. At the top of the page you’ve got something that might look like a vuvuzela, but the call-out says: “definitely, definitely a golf tee.” Then there’s the man who appears to be playing soccer, but thank goodness – we are assured he’s actually doing the hokey pokey and “putting his right foot in, his right foot out”. I love it!
Kulula Airlines also knows the power of strong customer service stories to spread their message. If you saw Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, keynote our Underground® seminar you might have heard him reference the funeral story. The short version is a woman ordered a pair of boots from Zappos for her husband. Tragically her husband died the same day the boots arrived and she called Zappos to return them. The Zappos customer service rep took it upon themselves to send flowers to the funeral and this became a major story in support of their company values of customer service.
Here’s Kulula’s version during the World Cup. They had a Japanese passenger who had somehow ended up with his ticket couriered to the wrong city. Kulula went above and beyond to make sure the ticket arrived in time for him to attend the match and enjoy the World Cup. Bravo! The full story is on their Facebook fan page.
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