etihad airways plane

Etihad Airways

How a leading airline maximized reach, engagement, and brand sentiment on Twitter

See how you can achieve similar success

See how you can achieve similar success

Since their first flight in 2003, Etihad Airways (@etihad) has grown from the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to a global aviation group, offering a diversified portfolio of travel solutions and services. They lead with thoughtfulness, seeking excellence in everything they do, promoting greater wellness and sustainability for all, and working to shape the future of aviation.

Campaign objective

Given some easing of COVID-19 restrictions around Europe and the UAE, Etihad Airways wanted to build excitement around flying and traveling the world again, with maximum possible reach. They ran a promotion on Twitter for free flights to tap into this anticipation for traveling. 

The UEFA European Football Championship, The Euros, was taking place at the same time and was identified as a clever way Etihad Airways could connect with what’s happening and leverage a large audience without being an official sponsor. 

Knowing that Twitter is home to a highly engaged and leaned-in audience, Etihad Airways knew it was the place to run this campaign and to take part in the real-time conversations surrounding The Euros. They ran a reach campaign on Twitter and used various targeting tools to target a wide audience with their promotion. They used both Image Ads and Video Ads in this campaign.


Etihad Airways’ target audience are couples and families aged 38-55 that travel for leisure, to visit family and friends, and for business. 

On top of demographic targeting, Etihad Airways also used Twitter’s interest targeting and conversation targeting options to reach people who are interested in and engaging with football and travel topics. They also used Tweet engager retargeting to reach people who engaged with their previous, pre-match Tweets.

Products used


Etihad Airways used digital press, radio announcements, podcasts, and influencers alongside their Twitter campaign, but found that their Twitter campaign generated 31% of their total marketing reach. 

They were the only brand trending on Twitter during the final of The Euros and were number 2 on Twitter Trends list in the UK and UAE during the final game. 

46 Million+

reach with their ads



times #EtihadFreeFlights was Tweeted



positive / neutral brand sentiment

Keys to success

Use Twitter to connect with what’s happening

Twitter is the roar of the crowd for events. Etihad Airways harnessed the power of connecting to an event on Twitter by taking part in real-time conversations about The Euros. It allowed them to reach people that were receptive and already taking part in the public conversation about the game. 

Tapping into these conversations builds cultural relevance for brands, and, according to a 2019 Magna & Twitter study, when considering price and quality, brand features, and cultural involvement, 25% of a consumer’s purchase decision is determined by a brand’s involvement in culture.1

Learn how to connect with what's happening on Twitter.

Use auto-bid for short campaigns

There are three bid types available for Twitter Ads, and the one you select will be based on your goals. Auto-bid is designed to auto-optimize your bid to maximize results within your budget, and it’s also the best way to quickly get your campaigns live and serving impressions on Twitter. 

As Etihad Airways’ campaign was running over a short period, auto-bid was the most efficient and effective choice for them.

Use a combination of creative ad formats

Using a mix of ad formats can help drive greater results. Etihad Airways used both Image and Video Ads for their campaign and included a Conversation Button in some of their ads, too. 

Conversation Buttons make it quick and easy for people to Tweet about branded content. These buttons layer onto standard Tweets and include a call-to-action button and customizable hashtag. For their reach campaign, Etihad Airways used Conversation Buttons that included their customized hashtag #EtihadFreeFlights and a CTA to Tweet using this hashtag.

Twitter seems to be the ideal channel when it comes to real-time football conversations and updates, and the use of hashtags as a means of creating awareness...there is basically no other channel that makes use of hashtags to the extent Twitter does.

Simon Kamsky, Senior Marketing Manager at Etihad Airways

1. Source: MAGNA & Twitter “The Impact of Culture”, 2019, US General Population A18+, n=865, Twitter Users, n=153

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