South African LCC kulula partners with Unilever to surprise passengers with free meal

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

It is a well-known fact that the reason airplane food is often bland or boring is partly due to the pressurized airplane environment and the cool, dry cabin air, which dulls passengers’ tastebuds and leaves them with a muted perception of salty and sweet.

Kulula.com x Robertsons ‘SkyDine’
Combining several onboard hospitality trends – such as the growing number of airlines that organize ‘micro-events’ up in the air in order to put an original twist to the flight, the rise of brand collaborations to improve the passenger experience, and the popularity of generosity as a marketing tactic – South African LCC kulula.com and Unilever-owned Robertsons Herbs and Spices recently surprised unsuspecting kulula.com passengers on flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town with a three-course fine dining experience courtesy of Robertsons Spices.

On March 5th,  bloggers and food journalists from Cape Town and Johannesburg were invited by kulula.com to a surprise flight to Johannesburg, and on the return flight to Cape Town, South African celebrity chef and MasterChef South Africa judge Reuben Riffel introduced the surprise three-course meal which he had designed, and which was prepared by airline catering company Foodirections.

Riffel introduced his 3-course menu, emphasising that the flavours had to be stronger, due to the 35000 feet height at which the meal was eaten. The starter was a feta and leek tartlet; the main course a pistachio and black pepper crusted beef fillet; ended off with a dessert of ‘milk-a-roon mini sweet short crust pastry filled with cinnamon and mixed spice custard and Turkish delight’.

Three other kulula.com flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town surprised passengers with the same three-course meal.

Experiential marketing
The clever marketing campaign (video here) was meant to demonstrate that Robertsons Spices can add a tasty twist to just about any meal. Said Deeolan Govender, marketing manager for Robertsons Herbs and Spices, “We were looking for an entertaining way to show how a simple combination of herbs and spices can add the right twist to a meal and create a culinary experience.”

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JetBlue x Kraft ‘Breakfast from Heaven’
The brand activation campaign of Robertsons and kulula.com resembles a similar initiative from JetBlue and Kraft several years ago. During February 2008, Kraft and JetBlue teamed up to offer 500,000 free breakfasts on JetBlue’s morning flights. Passengers on select flights from Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston, New York City, Washington D.C., Oakland, Long Beach and Ft. Lauderdale enjoyed a free breakfast courtesy of Kraft.

The so-called ‘Breakfast from Heaven’ was provided by makers of Philadelphia Cream Cheese to test its new 1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese product. In line with Philadelphia cream cheese commercials at that time, which featured  a female angel in heaven enjoying the cream cheese on bagels with man servants, the breakfast at 35,000 feet was served by angels and by two white-tuxedoed representatives of Kraft.

According to Tyler Williamson, brand manager at Kraft Foods, handing out samples on a flight that offers no meals was a low-cost way to get people to try a new product and create some buzz.

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