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Behind Changi Airport’s awesome response to Joseph Schooling’s triumph

SINGAPORE - Out of all the responses we have seen to swimmer Joseph Schooling’s amazing achievement of beating Michael Phelps, breaking a new Olympic record and bringing home Singapore’s very first Olympic gold medal, we have to say Changi Airport’s top-notch lightning-fast Facebook post of a flight arrival announcement board and Joseph Schooling arriving in a time 50.39 seconds in the Gold terminal stands out memorably.

SINGAPORE - Out of all the responses we have seen to swimmer Joseph Schooling’s amazing achievement of beating Michael Phelps, breaking a new Olympic record and bringing home Singapore’s very first Olympic gold medal, we have to say Changi Airport’s top-notch lightning-fast Facebook post of a flight arrival announcement board and Joseph Schooling arriving in a time 50.39 seconds in the Gold terminal stands out memorably.

Yes, there had been other witty posts from brands such Starhub and Netflix, but Changi Airport’s effort remains unsurpassed in its effectiveness, simplicity and clear celebratory message. It went up at 9.26am on Saturday morning—barely 15 minutes after Schooling touched home. Its corresponding Facebook read: “Announcing the arrival of Singapore’s first Olympic gold medal. Congratulations to Joseph Isaac Schooling, the world’s 100m butterfly champion! From all of us at Changi Airport, thank you for making us proud. Majulah Singapura!”

Since then, the post has reached more than 1.45 million people according to Ivan Tan, Changi Airport Group’s senior vice president of Corporate & Marketing Communications. “Response has been overwhelmingly positive. It travelled out of Singapore and we had positive comments from Singaporeans living overseas as well. It is our best performing post ever and we are very pleasantly surprised by how it turned out,” he added.

Tan told TODAY the idea to do something for Schooling germinated after his phenomenal semi-finals swim last Friday morning when the 21-year-old finished top. “We thought there is a possibility of him getting a gold medal and were considering doing something special. We activated our (social influence) agency Goodstuph to discuss. There were limitations to contend with such as the short time we had as well as Facebook’s rules of not having too much text on visuals.”

Several ideas were discussed and tossed aside such as using the image of Changi Airport’s iconic control tower. Tan revealed they were also reluctant to use Schooling’s photo due to copyright issues and the fact it was kind of “obvious”. Plus, it had to be a post that people could like and share while being relevant to the airport. On Friday evening, they finally hit upon the concept of using the flight arrival board to announce the news. “It was partly inspired by how flight arrivals used to be announced over the intercom at airports in the past when I was growing up,” shared Tan. “It resonated with what we do as an airport and we felt we had something good.”

The visual and copy were done up by about 7pm on Friday. The only thing missing was how Schooling would perform and his timing. To their delight (and their entire nation) the next morning, Schooling did what everyone dreamt he would and got gold. “We put in the timing and quickly delivered it to our social media team which uploaded it as soon as possible,” said Tan. The rest is social media history.

To welcome our golden boy home this morning, Changi Airport cleverly reused its flight arrival board concept, except this time around it used the real Solari board at the departure hall of Changi Airport Terminal 2 (there is no Solari board in the arrival hall). The airport also arranged for a special water cannon salute when Singapore Airlines flight SQ67 landed, activated its staff members for a warm welcome and did a Facebook Live video of Schooling’s arrival.

Tan declined to reveal if the airport would be doing anything special when Schooling leaves to return to Texas for his university studies and training. “We always look forward to welcoming him home,” said Tan. “And we can’t wait to come up with something even better in 2020.”

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