DDB & Tribal Worldwide, Amsterdam

What can others learn from how you conceived of and designed the interactive component of your advertising campaign?: 

Before launch, we created a story about the travel of the weather balloon and the challenge to predict where it would eventually pop when it reached the edge of space. Visitors would be able to follow the balloon from launch location to final destination through a beautifully crafted 3D animated story.

Making something rather complex simple

While listening to the narrator and interacting with the scene, they would learn how nature’s elements would influence the balloon until it reached the edge of space and finally popped. Users had to predict where the real balloon would pop, by claiming their place in space. In order to do this, users would go through an intuitive step-by-step process where they’d first select the vertical drift and then the horizontal drift.

Smart sharing / social activation

Next, a ‘smart-sharing’ feature allowed people to increase their chances by asking friends to endorse them. If friends would endorse them, they would get a head-start themselves when they would claim their own place in space. This reciprocal mechanism resulted in a viral boost on social media.

Different experiences on different platforms while telling the same story

In order to make the online experience equally impressive and engaging for everybody, anywhere at any time, we designed totally separate alternatives of the desktop site for all digital devices. We focused on playing to the strength of each platform. A highly cinematic and seamless experience for desktop users. While tablet users where treated to a fully interactive experience with a very high level of design that also offered fully dynamic, real time overviews of the digitally claimed spaces and mapped them to the live-data the balloon streamed on the launch day.

On mobile phones, we turned the site into a pocket space flight control center. During the balloon’s live ascent on April 22nd, it continuously informed contestants of their position relative to the balloon and other nearby contestants, thus keeping even a mobile audience captivated during the final hours of the challenge.

Last but not least: execute well

The entire animation sequence used in the contest is neat, smooth, simple and engaging. Users are asked to cut the rope so that the balloon can fly, asked to pick a place from space and finally shown a neat visualization on where exactly the claimed place in the entire space is. The animation was augmented with speech and sub-titles so that the message is clear to the audience. The background sound that plays throughout the campaign gives a feel that we’re not on earth.

Please describe how the concept for your interactive component came about, and what research, information, inspiration, etc. informed it.: 

KLM wanted people to share in their pioneering spirit and innovative approach to passenger space travel by giving away a real ticket to space. Since only one winner could actually experience spaceflight in the end, we wanted a global audience to have a sense of such a spectacular experience as well. We wanted to build the experience of space flight into the campaign. By going online we could reach that global audience. And by using digital media and two-way transmitting technology developed for actual spaceflight, we were able to make that experience interactive. By taking them first on a virtual space trip and then letting them witness the real-life spaceflight of the a high altitude balloon fitted with GPS and HD cameras live, we gave them a very real feeling for the adventure of space travel. The high altitude weather balloon provided us with a relatively safe and tested platform to launch an object into the upper atmosphere.

How does the interactive component interact with and complement other aspects of the campaign?: 

Launch day / live event

On 22nd of April, launch day - the ‘rien ne va plus’ moment - the high altitude balloon’s 4 cameras and 2 GPS-trackers and a radio transmitter streamed data to the website where the balloon’s progress could be followed live. People could compare the balloon’s location to the predictions. Finally the balloon, that was taking a worldwide audience on a journey to space, expanded and popped at 31 kilometers after a journey of 1,5 hours.

Social sharing / activation

A ‘smart-sharing’ feature allowed people to increase their chances by asking friends to endorse them. If friends would endorse them, they would get a head-start themselves when they would claim their own place in space. This reciprocal mechanism resulted in a viral boost on social media.

In what ways does the interactive component add real value to the lives or work of customers?: 

The interactive components delivered real value and engagement to customers + real PR and CRM value to our client. The campaign drove traffic to the (mobile) website that in itself was noteworthy because of the high quality creative work and the exemplary user experience elements, all optimised for the users’ context. The promise of a space flight in the end is based on the principle of ‘giving a lot’ and expecting little. We feel the huge success of KLM Space is based on a reciprocal principle that truly convinced users to participate.


Please share any quantitative, qualitative, and/or anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of the interactive component in meeting the goals of the overall campaign.: 

During our 12-day campaign we reached over 25 million people worldwide, the trailer received 3.2 million views. Of the website-visitors 1/5th participated and a total of 129,288 places in space were claimed (30% above target). The average time on site exceeded the exceptional duration of 6 minutes per visitor. The viral effect was 218%, every share delivered at least 2 additional visitors. Many new fans were generated: there were 30% additional likes on Facebook (27,971 likes) and 44% of all participants subscribed to the newsletter.