How one email had the power to feed 30,000 hungry Somalians.


Like all loyalty based programs, Etihad Guest has thousands of members with very low miles balances. These balances seem pointless to the members and have no real value in terms of use for flights or rewards. The problem is that these miles add-up to a become a major liability for the airlines books. Etihad asked us to find a way to encourage these infrequent, frequent fliers to burn their miles and help balance the books once again.

Etihads’ ongoing working partnership with the Emirates Red Crescent Charity is focused on the thousands of children and families in need in Somalia – which gave us the perfect opportunity to show how doing good – could be good for business.


Our audience – the ‘unwittingly unengaged’ – have no idea whether they are sitting on a couple of free flights to the Maldives or barely enough to get a cheap travel charger because they have no regular way of evaluating their worth objectively.

So, we asked ourselves: “if unengaged people don’t value their miles why wouldn’t they just give them away?”

We analysed the marketing calendar during high relevance and engagement peaks and it showed less than .05% of our eligible base redeemed miles through donation.

Miles are too abstract and intangible – they couldn’t place a value on them for either themselves or other people.

Clearly we needed to change both the context in which they were viewed and a simple construct for people to reframe the value they represent.

We saw Ramadan as offering the perfect mass psychological ‘moment in time’ when people are not making decisions based on selfish or economic value alone but a unique window where everyday decisions are imbued with emotional meaning for the impact on others.

By reframing ‘miles as meals’ they became an easily understandable ‘emotional currency’.

We chose the humble email as the primary means of communication, supported by ongoing campaign reminders and references on owned media such as banners on rewards newsletters, homepage and E-statements.

‘Simplicity’ became our creative strategy and we looked at everything in the most telegraphic way. This unengaged audience needed to clearly understand how they could play their part in helping the Somali people.


The target was to achieve 15 million miles donated, which is the equivalent of 20,000 meals. Previously, only 402 people from this audience had donated miles.

In total the “miles as meals” campaign delivered 23 million miles donated, a staggering 30,000 meals and a whopping 151% above target! Showing that doing good, really is good for business.

The work was also recognised with 2018 MENA Effie Gold award – showing that work like this in our industry can make a real difference to people’s lives

This seasonal campaign for Etihad Airways frequent flyer program, Etihad Guest, won a Gold Effie at the 2018 MENA Effies awards


Etihad Guest - Travel for Good

This case study shows how timing, engaging creative and a frictionless mechanic created the conditions for people to become actively engaged and place value on their airmiles that ultimately changed lives.