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Awards case study: How Inmarsat Aviation used AR to target decision-makers at global trade shows | B2B Marketing

Find out how Inmarsat Aviation used augmented reality and live-event marketing to target an entirely new subset of decision-makers


Inmarsat Aviation is a division within Inmarsat PLC. Founded in 1979, Inmarsat PLC owns and operates global satellite networks, offering remote-area communications and connectivity to maritime shipping, military and (via InmarsatAviation) commercial airlines.

During Q4 of 2016, the company launched its commercial service of GX Aviation, Inmarsat Aviation’s new in-flight broadband service for airlines. With GX Aviation, passengers could experience unprecedented wifi speeds all over the globe.

GX Aviation is powered by Global Xpress, a $1.6 billion network of satellites owned, launched and operated by Inmarsat.


In-flight wifi has become a red-hot issue for airlines. The tipping point was in 2016 when a large number of airlines had committed to broadband, forcing others to do the same. Market analysis estimated there was an 18-24 month window, by which time 90% of all airlines that would consider purchasing passenger connectivity would actually commit. For suppliers, the race was on.

Inmarsat Aviation (IA) was ill-equipped for such a race. Nobody knew who Inmarsat Aviation was and although the company had a rich heritage in supplying satcom to 95% of cockpits, airline organisational silos meant there was less than 7% awareness of the brand among passenger wifi decision-makers.

Nobody understood that as a product, high-speed satellite-based wifi is a new and intangible service proposition for airlines. Category understanding was low and there was little ability to envision its real value. No one was aware they could buy from Inmarsat Aviation, because the company had only ever sold to airlines via indirect channels, further suppressing awareness. Inmarsat Aviation was moving to a totally new direct sales model offering a full internet service beyond its usual wholesale bandwidth.

Inmarsat Aviation had never done anything like it before. It was a conservative organisation that was unused to investing in marketing to drive sales.

Objectives of the campaign

Inmarsat Aviation needed to make a big impact to as many decision-makers as possible, in a limited time frame.

Trade shows presented a key opportunity to do this, so the company selected two – APEX Singapore and AIX Hamburg – as its key focus for the launch of GX Aviation.

Objectives included:

  • Increasing brand awareness and stature by 5% via a live presence and paid and earned media at APEX and AIX.
  • Educate airlines about the benefits of in-flight wifi – making it tangible and relatable. Also using this to build on-going engagement and create an online audience for Inmarsat Aviation’s educational content.
  • Drive footfall and double the number of meeting through creating a differentiated presence and using innovative ways to engage audiences.
  • Measure activity to prove the ROI of the campaign and its commercial success.

The target audience

The target audience was small because it was so specialist: there were only 250 airlines in the world that could buy the product, making a total global decision-making audience of 2500 – with perhaps another 7000 decision-influencers.

The audience had a complex segmentation with every airline, from super-premium Emirates to low-cost EasyJet, each having a different business model and unique motivators to invest in in-flight wifi.

Furthermore, passenger broadband decision-makers were siloed from the decision-makers for Inmarsat’s established safety product – putting Inmarsat Aviation on the back foot. The company had a product that was already flying in 11,000 cockpits and the new target decision-makers had no idea.

In a market where tech providers were only talking in jargon, combined with the huge investment cost, the audience lacked purchasing confidence. There were only two relevant events a year that these senior executives gathered at, which were APEX and AIX.

Media, channels or techniques used

At APEX 2016, GX Aviation launched as part of the ‘Bring it on’ campaign in order to maximise attention. Inmarsat Aviation used augmented reality (AR) in the ‘Connected air’ exhibition to launch 12 passenger POV video displaying the product’s value and benefits.

Elements of the campaign:

  • Tripled Inmarsat Aviation’s usual floor-space
  • Wow-factor media exhibition design
  • Global trade press PR
  • Social media boosted by paid promotion
  • ‘Connected air’ AR exhibition
  • Printed collateral and giveaways
  • Launch party with 200 guests
  • Post-event email campaign
  • Interactive touch-screens at AIX
  • Geo-targeted mobile advertising
  • ‘Connected air’ permanently installed at Inmarsat Aviation HQ.

Awards case study – How Inmarsat Aviation used AR to target decision-makers at global trade shows image

Timescales of the campaign

  • January – June 2016: Audience research and message development
  • July – September 2016: Creative development and production
  • 24 -28 October 2016: APEX show
  • November 2016: Post APEX evaluation
  • January 2017: AIX planning and media planning
  • January – April 2017: Creative development and production
  • 4 -7 April 2017: AIX show

Customer Testimonial

“Live events have truly put Inmarsat Aviation on the map. Instead of customers and prospects asking us “who are you?” they’re now looking to us for thought leadership and partnership. We’ve shifted the conversation and our positioning. We’re now regarded as true industry innovators.” 

Dominic Walters, senior director marketing communications and strategy, Inmarsat Aviation

B2B Marketing Awards 2017 – winners

This submission won the award for ‘Best use of live-event marketing’ at the B2B Marketing Awards 2017: ‘Bring it on trade shows’ for Inmarsat Aviation by OgilvyOne Business.

See the full list of winners

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