Heathrow Airport’s YouTube Christmas campaign takes flight

Awareness, Consideration, Sales
Video, Display, Social media


The 2018 Heathrow Christmas campaign, the third iteration of the Heathrow Bears, had two core objectives: to generate reach, awareness and engagement while also increasing the acquisition of products and services to Christmas travellers. The challenge was to leverage the familiarity of what audiences had seen before, while reaching new audiences.

YouTube formed the backbone of the campaign, from launching via a Masthead, down to Bumpers keeping the brand front of mind. Agency iCrossing helped with the planning and execution of digital elements while Havas delivered the creative and above-the-line media, and AmazeRealise developed digital assets. The team also worked with LiveRamp and Acxiom to integrate Heathrow’s CRM system into the overall targeting.

The strategy was multifaceted, starting with the UK-wide launch of a Masthead in tandem with the TV premier, to collect video viewers for remarketing. The brand than ran edits of the film as TrueView, targeting key audiences. Sequential YouTube Bumper Ads, retargeting Masthead and TrueView viewers were segmented to target known travellers.

A later stage focused on retail, using previous engagement and first-party data to identify the right products for the right people.

Timing was key. Launching on 8 November meant that Heathrow stole a march on competitors.

What was the role of digital within the media mix?

As well as YouTube, a dynamic campaign landing page was created and Display Skins executed through DV360. Meanwhile, SublimeSkinz featured a playable video unit to users who had not already been exposed and additional content to those who had been. Dynamic display ads featured retail products using a mixture of first-party CRM data, which were also retargeted to users who had already engaged on YouTube.

In addition, there was social activity across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to grow conversation around the Heathrow Bears.

PPC was used to promote retail products based on searches, utilising custom audiences to ensure efficacy.

Key statistics


View rate


Day one users


CTR increase

What results did you attain? What was the biggest achievement?

Christmas 2018 was an undisputed success for Heathrow Airport.

The Masthead contributed significantly to the impact of the campaign, with a unique reach of 12 million users on day one, the equivalent to 18% of the whole UK population.

TrueView delivered 1.9 million views, with a view rate of 41% at £0.01 cost per view. There was also a 25% increase in ad recall.

With defined targeting, combining YouTube viewers from TrueView and the Masthead with Heathrow first-party data, the campaign blew all targets out of the water, driving a 0.12% CTR (+71% YoY) and £1.90 CPC (68% YoY).

What’s more, CTR was up 150% compared to the summer campaign and 233% above target.

With regards PPC, conversion rates were up 65% against target, with a 27% reduction in CPA. This channel delivered over 900 retail reservations on Heathrow Boutique, beating campaign goals by over 500.


In a sentence...

How a YouTube focused Christmas campaign for Heathrow Airport smashed all targets and stole a march on competitors

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