Cathay Pacific’s YouTube channel: social marketing vs. ad creative – empircal data, opportunities missed, lessons learned

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I came across this when I got the monthly Marco Polo club mailer from Cathay Pacific and clicked through to their YouTube channel. I watched some of their new TV spots for their business class offering.

Maybe its just my European reserve but I find these ads a bit uncomfortable to watch: whilst I can see what they are trying to do. I think that the ad doesn’t put the adventure back into flying, instead it makes pratagonist (and by extension the business class customers customers that are supposed to identify with him) look juvenile, a bit creepy and smarmy in the privacy-related TV slot, bumbling and an all-round jackass.

The character irritated me in the 30-second spots, If I had to put up with him sitting next to me on a 12-hour flight, I would want to kill him (probably with his own pen thrust into the side of his neck a la Grosse Point Blank). It also had quite a 1980s ad production feel and would  probably fit in on a TV ad break alongside the now painfully awkward Nestle Gold Blend ads.

The humour is too half-hearted to work well, it is like a poorly done version of the Bond character that Rowan Atkinson did for Barclaycard.

I found that I much prefer the simple 3-minute video where the guy takes you through how everything works. It is much better, and I bet that Cathay Pacific spent a lot less on it.

Enough about what I think what do the numbers tell us? I have made this chart from the YouTube data for each video and glanced at the insights as well:

Cathay Pacific- The new Business Class- Behind the Design (the staff walkthrough of the seat)2,074 in 3 days3313
Cathay Pacific- The new Business Class- Behind the Build (time-lapse footage of the plane of which the new business class design is an important part of it)19,605 in a month102 (1)31
Cathay Pacific — The new Business Class TVC- Companion (30-second TV ad execution)4,226 in 2 weeks20
Cathay Pacific — The new Business Class TVC- Privacy Screen (15-second TV ad execution)1,772 in 2 weeks50
Cathay Pacific — The new Business Class TVC- Stowage (15-second TV ad execution)2,034 in 2 weeks40
Cathay Pacific — The new Business Class TVC- Multiport Connector (15-second TV ad execution)2,380 in 2 weeks21
Cathay Pacific — The new Business Class TVC- Mission Data (15-second TV ad execution)4,269 views in 2 weeks7 (1)5

These numbers tend to suggest that in terms of the production costs, the social media video provided better value for money than advertising spots. The social media created spots had a greater level of engagement eliciting more comments and likes the the advertising spots. Looking at the analytics spots on each of the videos most of the traffic seems to be coming through their Facebook presence or through the other related videos on their YouTube channel.

What could Cathay Pacific do better?

  • What become immediately apparent to me reading through some of the comments was that consumers were keen for more behind the scenes content and news from Cathay Pacific
  • It also seemed to make an ideal pre-sales customer services channel which could be easily handled alongside the work that Cathay Pacific already does on Twitter
  • Looking at the analytics there doesn’t seem to have been much of an effort to get this important redesign out to travel bloggers, design sites, luxury sites or lifestyle sites. Why not do blogger events in key markets as part of a proactive outreach campaign
  • Think about Facebook and YouTube advertising: using punchier versions of the social spots rather than the slow build of the ad spots
  • Build a direct response mechanism in
  • Less bumbling Bond clones more of the real-life heroes that are part of your staff please
  • Think about how you can target other decision-makers besides the passenger themselves

If you want any help with any of this, I can be reached via email or LinkedIn.