Shared Plate

Image via YouTube

APEX Insight: Travelers passing through John F. Kennedy International Airport got to meet – and eat with – new people at JetBlue and Coca Cola’s Shared Plate pop-up restaurant. While the campaign lasted just one day, celebrity chef JJ Johnson created memorable fusion dishes inspired by the strangers’ cultures, like banger chili dogs with everything bagel potato chips for a British woman and a man from New York.

According to JetBlue, only 16% of travelers “make it a point to connect with someone new at the airport.”  

To be honest, we were surprised the figure was that high as airports seem to be ‘mind your own business’ kind of places, where you look at your phone or newspaper and don’t make eye contact with strangers, let alone talk to them.

Nevertheless, whether the true figure is 16% or 1.6%, JetBlue used this insight to create a one-day campaign at New York’s JFK Airport, in association with Coca Cola.

The airline and soft drink giant created a pop-up restaurant called “Shared Plate” where passengers could get a meal before their flight.  There were only two catches.  

First of all, as the name implies, upon entering the restaurant guests were seated with a complete stranger.  Cameras were then in attendance to film the at first awkward conversations and to show how diners warmed up as the meal progressed.

Secondly, the pop-up restaurant had no menu.  Instead, celebrity chef “Chef JJ Johnson” was brought on board to create dishes customized for every table.  In particular, he took ingredients that blended together the culture of the people sharing the food.  

A British woman and a man from New York were served “banger chili dogs with everything bagel potato chips.” Image via JetBlue

For example, a British woman and a New York man were served “banger chili dogs with everything bagel potato chips.”  ‘Bangers’ (sausages), a British staple were given an American twist by turning them into hot dogs and including fried potatoes seasoned like a NYC ‘Everything Bagel.’

The idea of staging a stunt where strangers share food isn’t completely new, KLM did something similar as a Christmas 2016 promotion, when it created a so-called ‘Bonding Buffet.’   A table was progressively lowered from the ceiling at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, with it only reaching the ground when every seat was taken.

However, what is new is the fact that JetBlue’s celebrity chef created dishes on the fly.  

Indeed, one criticism we would have of the campaign is that other than the ‘Banger Chili Dogs’ dish, JetBlue didn’t really produce much content about the different dishes and as the One Mile at a Time blog says, the video explaining the stunt was not that detailed.  

Every dish and and ‘meeting’ could have been turned into an individual piece of content.  Indeed, JetBlue could have followed this up by producing its own mini recipe book inspired by the different cultures and backgrounds of the passengers it has on board its aircraft every day. 

Key Takeaways

This was a great campaign, but if anything we feel that JetBlue didn’t go far enough in really maximizing the value it got out of this.  

When running a stunt like this we would always ask: How can you squeeze the maximum amount of content you can get, and how can the promotion go even further?  How can you extend its life span so it is more than just a ‘one hit wonder?’

This case study was featured in SimpliFlying’s Airline Marketing Benchmark Report, which showcases the top airline branding strategies each month. Find out more here.