Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport - It's My Airport

Marketing Campaigns-Small Airport

For the last three years Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport has been the subject of considerable debate and scrutiny following the April 2013 announcement by its majority and interest carrier, Porter Airlines, that it would like to introduce jet aircraft and have the runway lengthened to accommodate this aircraft. Billy Bishop Airport is governed by a Tripartite Agreement which prohibits jet aircraft and the extension of the runway. As a result considerable time, energy and debate were expended amongst the Tripartite partners and the surrounding community to determine whether and if this proposal could be accommodated. In November 2015, a new federal government was elected and the decision was made that jets would not be allowed at the airport and the runway would be maintained at its current length.

During the years when the jet debate raged on, the promotion of the airport to consumers/passengers was halted. Energy and resources were poured into environmental assessments and other studies and promotional efforts would be seen as undermining the objectivity of the research and consultation process underway. When the federal government handed down its decision to cease the debate and not allow jets, the airport could re-emerge and once again stand on its own merits using current operations and successes as fodder for a marketing campaign designed to highlight what made this airport truly special.

Located less than two miles from downtown Toronto, Billy Bishop Airport has a unique travel proposition and is known for its convenience, efficiency and customer service. In 2015, Billy Bishop Airport welcomed 2.5 million passengers, generated more than $2 billion in economic impact for the city of Toronto, was the ninth busiest airport in Canada and won numerous awards including being named a top regional airport by both Skytrax and Airport Council International.

In early 2015 PortsToronto, owner and operator of the airport, decided to embark on a multimedia marketing/advertising campaign that would spotlight the amenities and benefits of this airport. The goal of the campaign was to generate greater awareness of the airport and its benefits from both a personal travel perspective and as an important piece of infrastructure for the City of Toronto. The marketing campaign was designed to highlight the many traveller benefits and features that the airport offers by using actual passengers telling their story about why they love the airport.

With a tagline of “It’s My Airport,” the campaign depicted real-life passengers recounting their travel experiences and providing the reasons why they choose to fly to/from Billy Bishop Airport. The passengers who participated were not paid and were not scripted. The passengers featured in our campaign were identified and approached through social media. Every day Billy Bishop Airport receives comments and tweets from passengers about why they love the airport. Our internal team went through these comments and identified passengers who had interesting stories to tell. We approached them on social media and narrowed the list down to six passengers who would star in our campaign and serve as advocates. Again, these passengers were not paid and not scripted – the stories they tell in the marketing campaign are in their own words. The passengers were as follows:

  • Walter Levitt (video) – Chief Marketing Officer at Comedy Network (who travels through Billy Bishop Airport each week to commute from his home in Toronto to his office in SoHo NYC)
  • Daryna Kulya (video) – Product Specialist in the digital technology field
  • Howard Green (video) – Founder of Business News Network (BNN) and Author
  • Jason Shim (video) – Non-Profit Technology Innovator; Digital consultant; Speaker
  • Karine Delage (video) – Public Relations agency owner
  • Sabaa Quao (video) – Career Entrepreneur; Owner of Newsrooms

Themes which emerged from candid interviews with the passengers included the airport’s proximity to downtown, the ability to walk or bike to the airport, access to more than 20 destinations throughout North America, and friendly customer service. The campaign ran for eight weeks and included print, radio, out-of-home (OOH), television, online and the digital OOH platform in the airport and tunnel.

Entry Statement

1. Project Goals: 

The goal of the campaign was to generate greater awareness of the airport and its benefits from both a personal travel perspective and as an important piece of infrastructure for the City of Toronto. This would be achieved by using actual passengers (unpaid and unscripted) talking about why they chose to fly out of Billy Bishop Airport. In Toronto, people have a choice and could choose to fly from the much-larger Pearson International Airport (YYZ). The campaign focused on the attributes that are unique to Billy Bishop Airport (YTZ) in an effort to build awareness and drive increased usage.

The key messages that were featured in the campaigns were as follows:

Customer Service: Unique travel experience
With friendly service, modern facilities, shorter lines, convenient access and full-service lounges, Billy Bishop Airport is a world-class travel experience, located in the heart of Toronto.

Efficiency: Pedestrian tunnel
Getting you from curb to counter in just six minutes, the award-winning pedestrian tunnel makes getting to Billy Bishop Airport even easier and more convenient. There’s flight at the end of the tunnel.

Access: Service to important markets
Ideal for business and leisure travel, Billy Bishop Airport is an important gateway for Toronto servicing more than 20 destinations in North America with connections to more than 80 destinations worldwide.

Convenience: Proximity to downtown
Located less than 3km from downtown Toronto, Billy Bishop Airport is quick and easy to get to. In fact, one-third of our passengers take a bus, ride their bike or walk to the airport.

Economic Impact: Gateway, job creator, revenue generator
Billy Bishop Airport generates more than $2 billion in economic impact per year, provides high-quality jobs and offers an important gateway that drives business and promotes tourism in the City of Toronto.  

Summary of Goals

  • Generate awareness of airport among those who don’t use airport
  • Generate awareness of amenities and services amongst current passengers
  • Generate awareness among municipal and federal governments of the economic impact of the airport on the city and country

2. Production: 

The multiplatform campaign was conceived of and developed by the Communications Team at PortsToronto, owner and operator of Billy Bishop Airport. Loop Media, a Toronto-based creative studio, produced the campaign elements shooting the photography and video that was such an important component to the campaign. This included post-production which totalled more than 200 individual pieces of creative in market. The media plan was developed by Cundari Media and included print, radio, online, social media, television, OOH, TSAs and digital.

3. Evaluation: 

The campaign was evaluated through several measures including a public opinion survey in the days following the close of the campaign, metrics provided by digital media sources as to reach and anecdotal feedback received through social media by those who saw the campaign in market.

A) Evaluation of Media Buy
By all measurement, metrics and accounts, the campaign was very successful and over-delivered in all areas (see Appendix A). The campaign unfolded across out-of-home, print, video, social media, online, radio – each platform requiring multiple versions to represent the diverse group of advocates. There were over 200 deliverables in total, generating 44.5 million impressions since the campaign’s launch on April 4, 2016.

The campaign over-delivered across all media, reaching 86% of Adults 25-54 in the GTA. Key measurements and metrics of the campaign include:

  • Digital 2.6 million impressions; Print 3.3 million impressions;  Radio 12.1 million impressions; Out-of-Home 21.7 million impressions.
  • YouTube: 173,188 Trueview. Completed views: 115% achieved. The campaign’s view-through rate of 21.07% surpasses the industry average of 15%.
  • Increased traffic to PortsToronto website by more than 16,000 visits (vs the monthly average)
  • Out-Of-Home total of 26.5 million impressions.
  • Radio: significantly surpassed ingoing objectives. Total audience increased 40% over what was projected and reached an estimated 75% of adults 25-54 in the GTA.
  • Print campaign (3.3 million total impressions) reached almost 50% of adults 25-54 in the GTA.
  • The media buy achieved 40% greater media value than actual media spend do to negotiated contra deals, in addition to a substantial amount of “earned media” generated.
  • The campaign was represented in every credible news source in the GTA: CBC, Toronto Star, Post Media, Bell Media and Globe & Mail.
  • A diverse mix of creative, media and advocates helped the campaign target both a news audience and lifestyle-focused millennial audience, encompassing business and recreational travelers
  • The campaigns performance showed higher engagement from harder-to-reach male millennials, a demographic that values convenience and utility.

B) Public Opinion Survey
The “It’s My Airport” campaign ran from April 4 to May 28, 2016. From May 30 to June 17, 2016, a public opinion survey was conducted amongst a randomly selected and representative sample of adults in the Greater Toronto Area. This sample of 807 adults had a margin of error of 3.5%, 19 times out of 20.
According to the survey 30% recall seeing one or more of the campaign elements/ads with 54% of that audience indicating that they would be more likely to consider this airport for their next flight to/from Toronto. Given the relatively modest media buy for the campaign ($360,000) and the fact that the campaign was only in market for two months this recall and behaviour change is very encouraging.

C) Social Media Monitoring
Throughout the campaign social media messages posted on Twitter and Facebook indicated that this campaign and its messages were breaking through. Each of the passengers featured in our campaign were active on social media and helped spread the campaign message to his/her followers. We encouraged people posting about the campaign to use the hashtag #itsmyairport and this approach was successful with many using the hashtag when tweeting about the airport (see Appendix B).

D) Passenger Traffic
The campaign was in market April 4 to May 28, 2016. In June 2016, Billy Bishop Airport had the busiest month in the airport’s history with 250,000 passengers arriving/departing that month.


4. Budget: 

The budget for this campaign was $670,000 which included creative developed by Loop Media ($310,000) and media buying ($360,000).