Kent Brooten will never forget the moment he hit one million miles on an Alaska Airlines flight.
Two and a half years ago, as he was flying from Seattle to Los Angeles after a visit with his fiancé, the pilot came on the intercom with this message “We are 227 south of Seattle. The person sitting in seat 3d has just reached one million miles.”
Brooten made sure to document that moment.
“I recorded it on my iPhone of course,” he said. The model Alaska Boeing-737 aircraft that Booten received to commemorate the milestone still sits on his desk.
Brooten became a Mileage Plan member 33 years ago, and today has 1,331,597 miles in his account – hard earned by a job that took him across the United States and a passion for climbing mountains that took him across the globe.
He is one of eight Mileage Plan members featured in Alaska’s latest ad campaign – a thank you to loyal fliers – which focuses on the draws of Alaska’s frequent flier program.
The campaign consists of five 30-second commercials, two of which feature Alaska’s chief football officer Russell Wilson, as well as print, radio and digital spots. In one of the commercials, Wilson is filmed in the process of doing a pull-up for each Mileage Plan member. His print ad features a football emblazoned with Wilson’s own mileage balance (218,432) and a headline “Nice Victory.” It touts Alaska’s award-winning loyalty program.
“The new ads express our sincerest thanks to our fans from their hometown airline,” said Ryan Butz, managing director of loyalty marketing.
The campaign revolves around the stories of individual Mileage Plan members and their unique interests, as well as focusing on benefits of the top-rated program such as the one mile earned per mile flown and complimentary upgrades for elite members.
Hart Rusen, creative director with Mekanism, a San Francisco-based ad agency who worked with Alaska to turn the vision for the ads into a reality, said the goal was to create an authentic, heartfelt thanks to people who have been loyal to Alaska. In addition, they had to consider how to weave Wilson into the campaign. He was ultimately featured as a Mileage Plan member.
Rusen said using real customers added to the authenticity of the campaign.
“We were looking for a range of stories; we wanted people who are honest fans of the brand, which wasn’t hard to find; Alaska is a brand people honestly care about,” he said. “(With real customers) there’s a sincerity of their story telling that is charming and honest.”
Alaska and Mekanism started out with a draft script for the frequent fliers but then let the story evolve based on the people they found.
“A lot of stories were cooler than the things we wrote,” Rusen said.
Other Mileage Plan members featured included a surf competitor, personal fitness trainer, business traveler, firefighter and an outrigger canoe racer to showcase the diversity of Alaska’s customers. Each Mileage Plan member had a unique story to tell.
Filming was done around the Seattle area to keep with Alaska’s Pacific Northwest roots. Commercials were filmed at Whidbey Island, a Crossfit gym in South Lake Union, Seattle City Hall and Deception Pass. Wilson was filmed in Los Angeles.
The print spot for Brooten features the frequent flier at Whidbey Island in a Marmot jacket and a backpack with his miles displayed on a patch on his jacket.
Brooten has been able to circle the globe with the miles he’s earned on Alaska and its global partners to pursue his mountaineering passion. Using Alaska miles, Brooten has summited all 17 volcanoes in the Pacific Crest range, as well as traveled to global climbing destinations for more adventure – including New Zealand, the Swiss Alps, Everest Base Camp and Mount Kilimanjaro.
Most recently, he used his Alaska miles to jet away on a honeymoon to Iceland with his new wife.
Michelle Locke, Seattle-based outrigger canoe racer and dragon boat racer was also featured in the ads. She posed holding an outrigger canoe paddle with the number of miles she has flown emblazoned on a sticker. Locke has flown 279,193 miles with Alaska and between traveling for work, dragon boat competitions, and vacation, she is in the air nearly every month.
Her favorite Mileage Plan feature is that she can book air travel with miles and money and still use the miles earned on that trip on a future trip.
Besides its amazing loyalty program, Brooten says it’s Alaska’s employees that really set the airline apart.
“I like the people,” said Brooten. “They are a different level of people than I deal with at other airlines; I like the airline and the way I’m treated.”