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St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport A reunion activation as epic as the big game

Starmark helped PIE — St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport — garner national news attention and social media momentum with a reunion activation inspired by a friendship from the stands of Super Bowl® LV.

The pre-game commentary

PIE is an international airport situated just 20 minutes from the white-sand beaches of St. Petersburg and Clearwater, Florida. Unfortunately, this well-placed airport is often overshadowed, among both locals and incoming travelers, by the nearby Tampa International Airport.

Our goals for PIE were to improve the airports recognition among locals and incoming travelers, and a chance occurrence at 2021’s biggest sporting event provided the perfect opportunity to create a new kind of cross-country connection.

During Super Bowl LV in Tampa, thousands of fans made a $100 charitable donation to have cardboard cutouts of themselves printed and placed in stadium seats that were left empty to maintain social distancing. Bucs fan and owner of Big Storm Brewery, LJ Govoni, found himself sitting next to the cutout of a Chiefs fan. LJ dubbed him “Frank,” and the two became pals during the game, with LJ tweeting pics and even buying Frank a beer.

After the game LJ used Twitter to find the real “Frank.” They met over Zoom, and LJ invited Frank, a.k.a. Iowa resident Clayton Whipple, to fly down to St. Pete for a reunion and a chance to meet each others’ families.

Starmark partnered with PIE, Visit St. Pete-Clearwater and Allegiant Airlines to make it a trip to remember.

The main event

  • Compliments of Visit St Pete Clearwater Convention and Visitors Bureau © 2021

This partnership covered airfare, hotel and a packed itinerary of family friendly must-sees. But it all started with a VIP welcome at PIE.

Welcome banners and a balloon arch in PIE brand colors were visible from the aircraft, greeting the Whipples as they deplaned. The welcome banners had a special hashtag for the occasion. There was a crowd of cutouts — including LJ and other recognizable faces — to greet them.

The arrival and reunion later in the trip were all captured on video, to be edited and shared via social media and with press contacts. PIE staff were present as ambassadors, wearing STAR badges to greet the family and pose for photos and videos. And the family’s welcome gift included individual mini-PIEs as part of the theme.

Trip Highlights

Big Storm Brewery provided the ideal venue for the reunion and featured the reappearance of our cardboard crowd that welcomed the Whipples at PIE the night before. 

We also collaborated with Visit St. Pete-Clearwater to develop a customized, social-media-ready itinerary for Clayton and LJ that highlighted the destination and local businesses, with participating partners featured as stops on the tour. They were each sent a cutout to share their own “Frank” selfies.

We posted a video to social channels that shared Frank’s story, so that it would live beyond the event.

The victory celebration

The event caught fire on both social media and in the press, with the story earned screen time in media with a unique monthly viewership of 59,509,242. Combined with social traction, that’s nearly sixty million impressions for an unforgettable story and the local airport, PIE, that made it possible.

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