MediaCom What's your brand's biggest challenge right now?

Amy Craven At American Airlines, the biggest challenge we’re facing is how we create more emotional attachment with our customers, with the ultimate goal of driving more brand preference. We have the unique opportunity of spending so much time with our customers, which is a really positive thing. But it’s also a challenge in making sure that we’re delivering a great brand experience, from the time of booking all the way through to when their travel journey ends.

MediaCom Marketers are under increasing pressure  to deliver fast sales – often at the expense of long-term brand building. Where does the right balance sit at American Airlines?

Amy Craven We look at our media mix from both long-term brand building to short-term conversions. We heard a great analogy in the MediaCom Suite [in Cannes] last year that your short-term conversions are going to be your ‘carbs’ – your quick hits, your fast delivery, and you can’t live without them. But, you also need to have the protein. The protein is going to give you that long-term brand building, it’s going to help you build that brand equity over time. We’re looking at brand regression models to help us decide and help us make responsible decisions on what is that right media mix, and what will deliver that return on investment.

MediaCom For airlines like yourselves, loyalty programmes open the door to a whole world of consumer data. How are you using this data to deliver more personalised experiences and drive loyalty?

Amy Craven We’re using our own customer data to be able to deliver more customised experiences and deliver the right marketing messages to consumers at the right times. First-party data is becoming more and more important as more privacy law and regulations are getting introduced; that data is more important to be able to unlock and reach those customers outside of our own channels. We’re using CRM data onboarding technology to do this – to reach those customers outside of our own channels, to take that  data and to make sure we give them offers that are relevant and timely.

MediaCom Sticking with customer experiences, which brands are giving you better experiences? As a marketer, what are you learning from disrupter brands and start-ups – or other industries, for that matter?

Amy Craven Brands that I rely on, brands that are making my life easier, and brands that I’m learning from and apply-ing to our work at American Airlines, are ones that leverage technology. So, for instance, when I’m looking on [Home-ware brand] Wayfair’s app, for example, I love being able to see user-generated content of the products that they’re selling, so I can make a good decision if this is a product that best suits me. Apps like Havenly have made interior design – something that was maybe unattainable for some, or maybe thought of as frivolous – easier and more accessible through a simple app. I love brands that suggest to me things that they think I should buy. Nordstrom does a fantastic job of selling me clothes that maybe I didn’t need but have suggested that I want. We’re really looking at how we can emulate some of those experiences and offers, to make sure we’re reaching customers and giving them options and products that they want. 

MediaCom Successful businesses all know the importance of people – both their consumers and their employees. What steps are you taking to build a culture of success at American Airlines?

Amy Craven We’re building a culture centred around people – whether that be customers or team members. On the customer side, we’ve spent the last year in in-depth research with over 20,000 interviews on both the quantitative and qualitative side, to make sure we’re developing marketing programmes, and creating experiences that deliver on those insights. We’re really looking for those human truths that all customers can relate to and making sure that all of those experiences and pro-grammes are customer-centric. On the people side, equally as important is making sure we’re able to instil pride in our team members and galvanise them towards our brand goals. We’ve spent the last year focused on identifying our purpose, which is to care for people on life’s journey.  So, really igniting those team members and getting them inspired behind that is what we do.

MediaCom A lot of marketers right now are looking at podcasts as a way of reaching consumers. What kinds of content formats do you use to engage your consumers? What works best?

Amy Craven We’re using audience insights to really tailor the type of content that we’re delivering, so some audiences may be more interested in long-form content that’s leveraging a credible partner to deliver that message. Others might be interested in short, pithier content that is hitting the message home quickly. So, for us, there’s no one avenue that is right or wrong, but it’s how we’re tailoring that message to the audience.

MediaCom What’s the best insight you’ve had (or heard) this year? How has it helped you unlock growth?

Amy Craven At American, one rule of thumb we live by is “fewer, bigger, better”, and it’s a constant discipline that we’ve been on to try to make sure that we’re doing bigger things that are more impactful. It’s really hard to have that laser focus, but it’s helped us deliver longer-term growth and bigger impact by focusing our efforts on major initiatives versus spreading our-selves so thin across a number of different tactics.