Memphis International Airport

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Captivating Marketing to Define the Brand for the Future

The Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority – the governing body of Memphis International Airport (MEM) – hired RedRover to lead efforts to capture community-wide attention with the important message that the airport is on a clear ascent, following the de-hubbing decision made by Delta Air Lines.

The message is a complex one, with a far-reaching audience. Plus, critics and naysayers across the community had already swayed public opinion in an unfavorable direction.

RedRover’s signature Growth Optimization (GO) Plan was put to work on behalf of the airport. In a customized research program, RedRover took the pulse of both passenger and influencer opinions of the current state of the airport and their vision for our community’s airport of the future.

The airport’s five-year, multiphase Modernization Plan, which better aligns operations with its new reality as an origin-and-destination airport, instead of a hub for Delta connections, needed a more modern, energized voice to break through in the Memphis community and create a more favorable—and well deserved—opinion of the airport.

From the research findings, RedRover designed and tackled a strategic communications plan in two phases.

Modernizing the Brand

RedRover began by giving a fresh look and feel to the airport’s brand. The existing logo—a single music note—had become highly recognizable and an accurate depiction of what travelers from across the world enjoy in Memphis, and what we enjoy as locals, too.

The logo also was in use in literally hundreds of locations throughout the airport, on signage, on uniforms and more. We knew that a total overhaul of the logo was cost-prohibitive and an impractical use of airport funds.

RedRover instead modernized the existing logo, giving it a fresh air of weightlessness and elevated promise. In places where the music note stood alone to represent the airport, the logo didn’t need replacing, which went a long way to conserve the airport budget.

Along with the refined logo came a crisp, welcoming color palette that is used throughout the airport terminal as well as in new communication tools and advertising.

No brand refresh is complete without the first line of defense unless the people who interact with customers represent the new brand accurately.

RedRover’s training team customized a series of workshops for the airport’s volunteer corps, the Blue Suede Service, to reinforce a welcoming, customer-friendly, improvement-focused approach in how they interact with passengers at the airport. This volunteer training paved the way for employee training throughout the airport to take place in the future, as the Modernization Plan continues.

Giving New Energy to the Brand

A local, beloved, larger-than-life face and voice provided just the right ingredient to complete RedRover’s year-one breakthrough strategy for the airport.

RedRover engineered the first in-depth endorsement partnership to take place between an NBA team and an airport authority. The partnership involves star Grizzlies defenseman Tony Allen, “the Grindfather.”

Allen is known nationwide for his tenacity, proclivity to work hard and ability to get the job done. Coining the term “grit and grind,” Allen’s mantra has become a cultural phenomenon across greater Memphis.

Every one of Allen’s characteristics—tenacity, hard work, grit and grind—is what the Airport Authority has embraced to execute the Modernization Plan on behalf of the Memphis community.

First Team MEM was born, so dubbed due to Allen’s recent ranking on the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team list for 2015.

The multichannel First Team MEM campaign involves:

  • An overhaul of FlyMemphis.com, the airport’s website, which officially re-launched in October of 2015, after a soft launch for a VIP audience with Allen in attendance the evening before. In the first 48 hours after launch, visitor traffic increased a skyrocketing 1,300% over the past performance. Ongoing traffic is sustaining a 900% increase over the prior website.
  • The First Team MEM promotional video, a humorous and engaging way to share facts and vision for the airport’s reinvention, launched simultaneously with the website. Featuring both Allen and airport staff, the video’s storyline was inspired by both NBC’s “The Office” and ESPN’s commercials featuring athletes in office workspaces.
  • MEM’s key messages of more flights, more airlines and lower prices are featured abundantly in FedExForum. The Grizzlies’ in-arena fan base and the typical MEM leisure and business passengers have significant demographic overlap, enhancing the purpose of the partnership.
  • New print and online advertising, a new email newsletter format, new signage, a #BetterMEM social media campaign and other modernized marketing tools support the hard work that the Airport Authority staff is embarking on to transform our airport.

Since our strategic communications plan began, the Airport Authority has seen marked improvements in public opinion, which was our agency’s year-one task. Based on passenger survey findings in October 2015:

  • Awareness of the Airport Authority’s Modernization Plan has risen 15%, while satisfaction with the plan increased eight percentage points.
  • Passenger satisfaction with their overall experience at Memphis International has risen 7%.

What results can RedRover get for your business?

If you want to kick start a communications campaign that better supports your operations, contact RedRover to discuss a partnership.

Memphis International Airport

Marketing Communications, Branding


  • RedRover really digs in from the beginning to gain a complete understanding of your business and industry, as demonstrated by their keen awareness of our unique situation and the best path forward from our very first conversation.

    They take an insightful, big-picture approach to strategy development, and their ability to deliver on both our marketing and training needs was a crucial factor in the decision to partner with them.

    Glen Thomas
    Public Information Officer
    Memphis International Airport