JFK Terminal 4 Creates Buzz With Interactive Social Media Events

JFK Terminal 4 Creates Buzz With Interactive Social Media Events
Laura Wavra
Published in: 

Customer engagement in Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) is taking another social/digital turn, this time in the form of billboard-size mosaics created with thousands of photos from passengers and airport staff. It’s all part of an ongoing series of interactive guest-driven marketing campaigns sponsored by luxury traveler retailer DFS Group and JFKIAT, the company which operates Terminal 4.  

During the various installments, travelers and employees are invited to use their phones to take photos and post them on Instagram and Twitter with hashtags created to reflect a particular event’s theme. Within seconds, each image is converted into a small photo sticker that is printed and analyzed for optimal placement to create a larger design. Participating passengers and staff hand-place their individual photo stickers onto the DFS-branded wall, creating a large, attention-grabbing mosaic that is displayed outside the concessionaire’s main beauty store.

In essence, DFS and Terminal 4 have a huge new staff promoting the store on their behalf—and everyone is working pro bono. 


Project: Interactive Social Media Events

Location: John F. Kennedy Int’l Airport Terminal 4

Sponsor: DFS Group 

Strategy: Passengers & staff are encouraged to post selfies & other cellphone photos on Instagram and Twitter with event-specific hashtags. On-site printers create photo stickers for them to place on a DFS-branded wall, creating a billboard-size mosaic outside the terminal’s main beauty products store. 

Product-Oriented Holiday Campaign: #BrillianceForAll, promoting Swarovski crystals

Holiday/Event Campaigns: #DFSLunarNewYear, #DFSCelebratesCarnival

Fundraising Campaign: #GIVEJOY, to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Duration: 2 months/event

Inception: August 2018

Creative Strategy: DFS

Engineering & Equipment Support: Luster (formerly Instaprint) 

Sheer Delight for Customers

Terminal and DFS staff report enthusiastically positive results from the social media activations. 

Ed Midgley, vice president of Commercial and Customer Experience for JFKIAT, explains that the goal was to bring passengers a little bit closer to the store and engage them in an activity beyond getting to and from their gates. In broad terms, the team wanted to enhance passengers’ overall experience and help create a sense of place within the terminal.

The response has been “sheer delight,” he reports. 

Hashtag mosaics at Terminal 4 began with a four-part activation to highlight DFS's main beauty store within the terminal's Retail Lounge. The activation attracted thousands of visitors.

The initial activation was followed by the Swarovski Holiday Event, #BrillianceForAll—in early December 2018. Luster, a New York-based company that specializes in experiential social media interaction projects, provided the engineering/design services and equipment needed to execute the event.

“Travelers love documenting their journeys via social media photos, and that made the Luster mosaics a great way to draw passengers to the DFS store,” explains Martin Matthews, DFS managing director of North America.

Based on the success of the 2018 activations, Terminal 4 and DFS decided to collaborate on additional hashtag mosaics. Subsequent events included #GIVEJOY, a fundraiser held later in December for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, followed by #DFSLunarNewYear and #DFSCelebratesCarnival—both in February 2019. 

“The events give passengers a chance to have their photos become part of DFS’ campaign installations and support fun customer engagement,” Matthews comments.

Collaborative Process

Midgley describes the activation process as uncomplicated. DFS develops the themes and creative elements, including the design of the final mosaic, image library and event hashtags. It also promotes the various campaigns to customers. JFKIAT handles the contracting with Luster and event logistics. 

Once the creative aspects of the initial event were planned, the primary issues the team addressed were safety, security and finding an optimum location. To ensure passenger safety, the equipment technician from Luster is accompanied by an airport escort at all times, and the equipment is inspected per TSA requirements each time it enters the building. “The T4 team is amazing at their jobs, honestly, and makes it easy for us,” notes Jen Finger, Luster’s senior account executive.  

Maximizing visibility was the main factor in selecting a location for the campaigns. Terminal personnel searched for a spot where the most people would see the mosaic display and gravitate toward it. As it turns out, the ideal location did not have a wall; but that didn’t prove to be a problem. The Terminal 4 team purchased a temporary wall that assembled in a Lego-like fashion, and crews affixed the 8-by-6-foot mosaic canvas to its surface. The photo printing equipment is placed nearby. 

Once the area is set up, Terminal 4 uses social media and internal resources such as help desk staff and airport signage to attract participants. Midgley says that personnel at the help desk are a great resource during these events, because they describe what the mosaics are and personally encourage passengers to participate. Interestingly, it’s not just millennials that give it a try. According to Midgley, the mosaics attract a broad spectrum of curious passengers, with no single demographic dominating the final mix.

Although no formal data is available for the Terminal 4 hashtag events, Luster reports that similar campaigns typically reach 390,000 people per event, in person and online. The real benefit of these events, Midgley says, is passenger and staff engagement. “People are genuinely having a good time, and it’s nice to see,” he muses.

Not surprisingly, JFKIAT plans to host more social media events. The next three, however, will be oriented around food/beverage providers rather than retail concessions. One is slated to occur during the annual Terminal 4 employee picnic this summer, and two more are on the calendar for the holiday season.



2022 Charlotte Douglas International Airport Report of Achievement

Giving back to the community is central to what Charlotte Douglas International Airport and its operator, the City of Charlotte Aviation Department, is about, and last year was no different. 

Throughout 2022, while recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, we continued our efforts to have a positive impact on the Charlotte community. Of particular note, we spent the year sharing stories of how Connections Don't Just Happen at the Terminal - from creating homeownership and employment opportunities to supporting economic growth through small-business development and offering outreach programs to help residents understand the Airport better.

This whitepaper highlights the construction projects, initiatives, programs and events that validate Charlotte Douglas as a premier airport.

Download the whitepaper: 2022 Charlotte Douglas International Airport Report of Achievement.



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