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Why KLM Became A Bank, A Radio Station and A Restaurant

Why KLM Became A Bank, A Radio Station and A Restaurant
Jennifer Billock

KLM came to a sobering realization recently: not many people actually know what they are, particularly in Germany. In response, the airline went to some unique lengths to make themselves known—it opened both a bank and a radio station in order to spread awareness of the company’s actual line of business.

Sorry, KLM. Your business name may be a bit confusing. A recent survey of Germany’s population showed that almost half of the country has no idea what KLM is. In response, the airline launched a marketing campaign called “We Are An Airline.” Essentially the airline took the form of the many different things people guessed it was—a bank, a restaurant, and a radio station.

At the restaurant, the company served in-flight meals. At the bank, a fake ATM handed out tickets for a free flight. The radio station played a KLM-curated music list and ads for the company.

“With our new campaign for KLM Germany, we have taken an insight and turned it on its head,” DDB & Tribal Amsterdam Managing Director Esther te Pas told B&T Magazine. “We’ve made a memorable awareness campaign out of the misconceptions that the general public in Germany have around what KLM is. This isn’t the first non-traditional campaign we have made for KLM.

In previous years we have offered KLM passengers an intelligent luggage tag with location-based tips that guided them through Amsterdam – in another instance, we encouraged random strangers at the airport to share a Christmas dinner to underline the fact that the airline genuinely cares for people.”

View Comments (2)


  1. amanuensis


    November 7, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    I bet in the United States, the percentage of clueless people would be even higher than it was in Germany. I am not sure how many would think it to be a bank or a restaurant, but I suspect very many would think it to be a radio station, since all radio stations in the United States have a government-issued call sign that begins either with a K or a W.

  2. strickerj

    November 8, 2018 at 8:10 am

    I can understand this, especially when most airlines have some variation of Air or Airlines in their name, and KLM doesn’t (at least, in their livery and branding, which is just their initials). Still, when many infrequent travelers just go onto an OTA and pick the cheapest result, does it really matter?

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