Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Published in Jan-Feb 2018

Emirates and Standard Chartered redefine luxury travel

Launches
The newly introduced co-branded credit cards are tailored to offer value to Pakistan's frequent-flyer community.

Travel has become a popular and affordable lifestyle choice for many Pakistanis on the back of a growing middle-class (according to Euromonitor it will exceed that of the UK and Italy by 2021), increased consumer spending, affordable airfares and a plethora of travel-related apps that provide real-time information on travel deals, hotel bookings, reviews and comparisons. In fact, Jovago Pakistan estimated that Pakistan’s leisure travel spending would grow from $10.3 billion in 2016 to $17.6 billion by 2026 and business travel spending would surge from $1.9 billion in 2016 to $3.3 billion by 2026.

Keeping in mind these statistics, it was an opportune time for Standard Chartered Bank Pakistan (SCB) to enter into a collaboration with Emirates Skywards and launch their first international co-branded credit cards (Platinum and Infinite), specially tailored to offer value to Pakistan’s growing frequent-flyer community. The partnership took place in November, 2017, led by Shazad Dada, CEO, SCB, and Jabr Al-Azeeby, VP, Emirates Pakistan.

Commenting on the launch, Muhammad Mustafa Memon, Product Head Credit Cards, SCB, says the bank chose to partner with a leading international airline in order to offer their members one of the world’s most powerful travel cards. He believes that SCB’s global acceptability, coupled with the Emirates brand name and their loyalty programme Emirates Skywards, have the potential to set the benchmark in terms of the best travel propositions in the market.

Emirates and Pakistan have shared a special relationship for 32 years, ever since their first flight from Dubai to Karachi in 1985. Initially, Pakistan International Airlines played a significant role in establishing Emirates by providing technical and administrative assistance. Since then, the partnership has blossomed further, with Emirates offering their services to Pakistan’s major cities including Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar and Sialkot – with 71 weekly flights. Moreover, with over 100 partners globally in the lifestyle, travel and finance categories and this latest partnership with SCB, Emirates hope to bring in new members to their loyalty programme.


According to Tajik, given the scale of the shoot and the number of people involved, this was one of the most ambitious shoots in Pakistan’s history.


For SCB, the collaboration will strengthen the bank’s position as the preferred choice of credit cards. “This partnership will not only enhance our relationship with existing customers, but will help us welcome new card users to the SCB family,” remarks Memon.

Although, standard policies of the bank will be applicable for the issuance of the co-branded cards, the bank is specifically targeting (travel savvy) corporate, high net worth or emerging affluent customers (SEC A). According to Memon, the cards have been designed with business and leisure travellers in mind, who value air miles and travel-related rewards and privileges.

The Platinum credit card offers 5,000 bonus Skywards Miles upon signing up and activation. Apart from this, members can earn another 8,000 Miles by paying the card’s annual fee along with purchasing at least one ticket (valued at least Rs 25,000) to any destination on the Emirates network. Alternatively, these Miles can also be earned by spending every month on groceries, fuel, dining or shopping (members who spend Rs 250,000 a month will be able to earn 24,000 Skyward Miles; on foreign currency transactions, with every Rs 250,000 spent, they can earn 48,000 Miles annually). Eligibility for a Platinum card involves a monthly income of Rs 100,000 and above.

The Infinite credit card offers 20,000 Skyward Miles upon card activation. Members can earn another 30,000 miles by either purchasing two tickets (valued at Rs 25,000 each) to any destination on the Emirates network or by spending on average Rs 250,000 on their credit card, along with paying the annual fee. Eligibility here involves a monthly income of Rs 500,000 and above.

Both cards offer members a discount of up to 50% at restaurants at home and abroad and discounts on car rentals and travel insurance.

The cards were designed by the SCB’s creative agency Manhattan International and show Emirates’ first-class cabin window overlooking the sunset (Platinum) and the night sky (Infinite). “We chose the airplane window because it depicts travel (anywhere). We sent our photographer into an Emirates aircraft and then treated the picture with different vistas,” says Taimur Tajik, ECD, Manhattan International.

The cards are promoted on TV, radio, print and digital along with branch and airport branding in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. The 90-second TVC with the tagline ‘Closer than you think’ was shot in seven locations, in five countries and took 17 days to shoot.

The concept was created entirely in Pakistan by Manhattan International, and it was approved by SCB in Pakistan, their global team as well as Emirates Skywards’ global team. According to Tajik, given the scale of the shoot and the number of people involved, this was one of the most ambitious shoots in Pakistan’s history. “It was one of the biggest campaigns we have done to date and it had its share of challenges; what you see as a finished product is not what we started off with. The concept went through multiple changes.”


Memon firmly believes travel is about to witness a surge in line with the economic growth and initiatives like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In his view, “the main drivers of air traffic growth will come from emerging economies like Pakistan and will not only contribute to the number of people flying more frequently but also to first-time flyers.


The agency wanted experiential locations (scuba diving in Australia, hot ballooning in Cappadocia, Turkey, dining at the Burj Khalifa...) whereas the bank wanted destinations Emirates flew to and which Pakistanis visited frequently. The destinations finalised were Burj Khalifa (UAE), the London Eye (UK), the Petronas Towers and Batu Caves (Malaysia), the Floating Market and Siam Park (Thailand) and Time Square (US).

Most of the places had strict security restrictions. The Burj Khalifa shot, although it appeared to be three to five seconds long, took an immense amount of preparation. In London, where a single rotation of the Eye costs an exorbitant amount, a complete empty rotation was taken to check the light and direction, another two to set things up, and then the final one on which shots and photographs were taken simultaneously.

Diwali festivities were taking place when the shoot took place in Malaysia while and at Time Square, the shoot took place on Columbus Day. Although Tajik says it was good that they got the necessary crowd, it was extremely difficult to cordon off people. “Logistically, no one can stop traffic on Time Square. Also, running around with cameras and getting people not to walk into the shot was a challenge.”

The cast involved non-Pakistanis mostly, as it was impossible to move people to different countries along with issues of travel documentation. The TVC was directed by Anders Forsman, a Swedish director, who was selected for his expertise with seamless transitions, which the hook in this commercial; the photography was done by Shahnawaz.

Memon firmly believes travel is about to witness a surge in line with the economic growth and initiatives like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In his view, “the main drivers of air traffic growth will come from emerging economies like Pakistan and will not only contribute to the number of people flying more frequently but also to first-time flyers.