KLM “Trace the place”, good example of viral marketing

KLM "Trace the place". Picture: KLM’s website.

KLM “Trace the place”. Picture: KLM’s website.

Last month, KLM has developed one of the best online viral marketing campaigns, which is characterized by its ability to engage with audience, share the message and be simple, original and creative.

What did KLM do? The airline created a micro website called “Trace the place”, where users of different countries can access to play an online contest-game that allows them to win two return tickets to their favourite destination.

You can check this game here: “Trace the place”. The dynamic of this original game is as follows:

You have to choose a Pack&GO destination predetermined by KLM, then you are dropped in your favourite destination and you have to guess where is the place, using Google Street View to look around this location.

Once you have the location, you must place your pin on a map and the participants who placed the pin in the most exact location will win two tickets to that destination.

Also, you confirm your participation in the game through Facebook, Twitter or e-mail.
 After that, KLM send you an email with the link to your personal game page. You can ask for help from your friends using Facebook, Twitter and e-mail.

At the end of the contest, you receive an email with a link that shows your score and the distance from your original pin to the correct location.

This campaign has some elements of a successful online viral marketing campaign. According to Grifoni, P et al.,(2012) “the marketing message to become viral will reach the target of potential consumers by transforming them in active agents that involve other people by sharing the message…it allows consumers to pass along a marketing message in an easy manner”.

Among these important elements, it can be mentioned:

  • Give away valuable products or services: “They may not profit today, or tomorrow, but if they can generate a groundswell of interest from something free”. Wilson, R. (2012). In this case, KLM gives away two return tickets to any Pack&GO destination of the user’s choice. Pack&Go were super deals that KLM promoted on its website.
  • Attract attention and impress the audience: Because KLM always try to do something new and different, for example with the micro website created using Google Street View.
  • Simple: The message is well executed and the website is easy and simple to use by the participants.
  • Share: Why do people share content? One reason is because of the useful information contained…In fact, content is more likely to become viral the more positive it is”. Berer & Milkman (2013). The users of “Trace the place” are more likely to share it because is a positive thing, a free trip wherever you want.
  • Also, people can share it with friends in an easy way through social networks like Facebook, Twitter or e-mail, in order to spread the message quickly and generate a positive feedback.
  • Gather customer information: Because the users have to confirm their participation using Facebook, Twitter or e-mail, so KLM access users’ data in a quick way.

The airline KLM achieves engagement with its costumers, they want to play and participate in the game because it is entertaining and provides a great prize. For example, people tweeted in KLM’s Twitter account asking for help to win   return tickets.

KLM’s Twitter

Comments of users in KLM’s Twitter.

With this viral campaign, maybe KLM could not see immediate results, but it creates a continuous feedback with its users, improves brand awareness and increases sales.

Do you usually get engaged in KLM’s campaigns? Please, comment your opinion about this viral campaign.


Berger, J. and Milkman, K. (2013) Emotion and Virality: What Makes Online Content go Viral?. Insights, 5 (1), pp.19-23

Grifoni, P et al. (2013) An Integrated Framework for On-line Viral Marketing Campaign Planning. International Business Research, 6 (1), pp.22-30

Wilson, R. (2012) The Six Simple Principles of Viral Marketing [online], May. Available at: http://webmarketingtoday.com/articles/viral-principles/. [Accessed 25th October, 2014]


6 thoughts on “KLM “Trace the place”, good example of viral marketing

  1. I agree this is a very well executed campaign. It encourages the competition as well as the help of users’ friends in a positive atmosphere. And yes, it’s valuable, simple and highly shareable.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Our Trace the Place competition ends this Thursday the 11th! (September)” quoted from KLM UK’s twitter, is indicative of non-functional website for the Trace the Place marketing campaign (the website now is failed to response as no selections could be given on its home page).

    However I would believe, according to your post, this marketing campaign has provided a fun and educative interaction with both existing and potential customers, and I agree with your point in particular “with this viral campaign, maybe KLM could not see immediate results, but it creates a continuous feedback with its users, improves brand awareness and increases sales”.

    It would be a very interesting point for an airliner company to realize how to balance the strategic development (route and air plane expansion) and a profit growth (sales in first/business class). Cheap fares can stimulate the increment in passenger flows but the company still relies elite customers to fly first/business class to contribute its annual profit. That might explains why airliner’s marketing campaign (normally) comes with either low fares or lavished services for elite passengers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Liwei, I agree with you, the contest website still exists but does not give to the user any options because the competition ended more than one month ago. But allows you to log in if you participated in the game.
      I think KLM is one of the few airlines that has creative and engaging campaigns for its users. KLM sent me an e-mail with an invitation to this game and I was surprised when I have entered to the site and started playing.. I shared it on social networks with my friends because it was a free trip wherever you want.
      On the other hand, I think that the airlines segment their customers and prospects, then they plan their campaigns and marketing strategies. For example, KLM has the frequent flyer Programme called Flying Blue and launches offers and promotions exclusive to them. Another example, two months ago Ryanair (low-cost airline) launched a new business class service in order to engage business passengers.
      Thank you very much for your comment. You are welcome!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is clear example of how an excellent idea can promote a product or a company successfully and cheaply. Traditionally brands had to invest a huge sum of money to launch its products or services. However, digital and social media have made marketing a bit more complex and faster at the same time. In other words, one of the main factors to succeed nowadays is “creativity”, because, as noted in the post, if a campaign has this it might be shared really fast, and as a result, the achivement would be guaranteed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Luis, KLM usually surprises us with its creative and innovative social media campaigns that are able to attract the attention of the public and ensure the participation of people in various online competitions. So, the users do not hesitate to share these competitions with their friends and family on social networks. Thank you for your comment.


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