Why AV business Scene Change spent their entire marketing budget on a private jet (and why it was a good decision).

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Marketing Strategy Madness or Branding Genius.

In a marketing strategy that sounds lifted from a Vegas comedy about three guys on a bachelor party, Australian corporate AV company Scene Change invested their entire marketing budget for two years to buy and run a private jet.

The guys at Scene Change decided that rather than continue to invest their marketing spend in the same channels as all their competitors, they’d back themselves to come-up with a big, bold idea to cut-through the noise and build significant market awareness. They bought a 1980s private jet that had seen better days – previously owned by an Asian president, whose Wikipedia page describes him as a ‘politician/kleptocrat’, the purchased the jet as a distressed asset.

The jet was used predominantly as the basis for bold story telling – I mean who the hell buys a 1980s private jet. The business leveraged the audacity that is rightly earned by having one of these in the garage. They flew it to Hamilton Island for the National Industry conference and on the basis of it becoming the most successful ice-breaker in the history of the category used the notoriety to kick-off conversations with prospective clients. Beyond the long term brand positioning, one conversation alone justified the expense.

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In the words of Scene Change; “So we became co-owners of a dodgy private jet for a couple of years. It worked as a charter jet, often ferrying criminals around for the justice department like ConAir. We only used it ourselves once, as the AV/DC tour jet for the MEA Conference on Hamilton Island. But the whole industry got the Scenejet t-shirt to remember it by. That’s Ian’s grandma’s tea set in the photo, bless.”

After two years and with the value of gesture mostly spent, the business sold the jet and were able to total the cost at around $50k per year – about what they were spending on search marketing.

It comes as no surprise then to discover that Scene Change owner Ian Whitworth has a background in branding and advertising. This kind of out-of-the-box thinking required a blend of creativity, strategy and ballsy risk taking. In a great piece of post success rationalization the two lessons the business learned from this exercise are:

Lesson One: Go big or go home

Marketers, every so often you should do something large and insane. It’s all very good to describe yourself as a brand storyteller on LinkedIn, but big stories need big raw material. You can’t create this sort of thing out of product shots.

Lesson Two: Sometimes there is no measurement

Measurement is generally a good thing, but if we had some budget approval ogre demanding to know the cost per acquisition for this kind of caper, there is no truthful answer because you just don’t know. It’s pure instinct.

Dave Ansett
David is the founder of Truly Deeply, a brand agency with 25 years experience working with brands to position them for growth. His deep expertise is in the creation of high engagement brands that attract the attention of their audience and stand out from their competitors. David has extensive experience working with corporate, retail, food & beverage and entrepreneurial clients. Find out more here
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Pics courtesy Scene Change.
You can read a more detailed coverage of the marketing campaign on www.smartcompany.com.au

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