Bikevertising: WOW Air’s bike sharing scheme in Reykjavik

A marketing tactic that has been adopted by airlines such as KLM, Alaska Airlines and AirBaltic is to advertise on bike share programs (a.k.a. ‘bikevertising’).

As cities across the globe have been taken part in bicycle share programs which are enjoyed by tourists and locals alike, those bicycles are a smart and relevant way for an airline to advertise.

Latvian-based ‘value carrier’ AirBaltic even operated its own bike sharing program, called BalticBike, between 2010 and 2014 in Riga and the seaside resort of Jurmala (the bike sharing scheme is now operated by Sixt At that time the airline commented that “BalticBike makes a marginal profit, but it is hugely popular among the city residents and tourists, and hugely visible, and so irreplaceable in advertising.”

In a similar entrepreneurial spirit, WOW Air, which bills itself as a “happy low-fare, long-haul, airline based in Iceland,” last year launched a bike sharing scheme in Reykjavik called WOWcitybike. In 2016, the city of Reykjavik advertised for ideas and interested parties in running rental bicycle stations in Reykjavik, and WOW Air answered the call  in cooperation with Canadian bike sharing company PBSC Urban Solutions.

Targetting the millennial demographic, WOW Air has been compared to a “flying youth hostel,” and providing tourists and citizens an affordable and fun way to explore the capital on their own fits well with the airline’s brand image.

WOW Air’s messaging focuses on its positioning as a low cost airline that brings fun to flying. This includes a bright purple colour theme, ‘tongue-in-cheek attitude’ and humorous on-board announcements.

Eight bicycle stations with in total 100 bikes have been set up across the centre of Reykjavik and the bikes – which have three gears, handle breaks, adjustable seats, and puncture proof tires – can be rent from and returned to any station.

Unlike the many bike sharing schemes around the world that let users pick up and leave their bikes at any location and unlock the bike via a mobile app, WOW citybike is a bit more ‘old fashioned’ and uses bike stations combined with a credit card kiosk.

There are four options for renting a bike: 350 ISK (USD 3) for a 30-minute ride, 3900 ISK (USD 36) for a 30-day pass, 9900 ISK (USD 91) for a 90-day pass, and 16900 ISK (USD 156) for a one year pass.


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