Let me tell you a story… about storytelling. That’s the latest watchword in amenity kit design, the particularly fascinating passenger experience space at the nexus of cabin interiors, airline branding, and the the desire to extend airlines’ contact with their passengers as long as possible.
Storytelling, says Formia chief marketing officer Niklas Sandor, starts with “creating a much more cohesive concept, so that the amenity kit is something that relates to your overall journey, and is something that represents the brand, the airline and the collaboration that they have. It’s really taking that beyond the product and incorporating that in many more elements: the lounge, or the post-experience. We’re using the amenity kit as an enabler for a wider experience.”
That’s all very aspirational, as you might expect from one of the big names in amenity kits. But Formia is putting it into practice with its latest partnership, with Aeromexico, Etro, and Field Notes.
The 51-year-old Italian fashion house’s bold, eye-catching paisley is used as both the amenity kit of a book blurb, like on the inside of the handle strap of the bright orange outbound kit, and as an integral part of the plot once you open up the large flap of the folding inbound kit.
The outbound kit’s plain orange leather will pop against the relatively staid blue-grey-beige of the Aeromexico longhaul cabin, while the Etro paisley will be a pleasing match with the existing fabrics.
The kit, and the partnership, Sandor says, is “pushing the boundaries in terms of the experience for what Aeromexico has done before: inbound there is a traditional contemporary kit, and then on the return flight it’s a bold, bright kit that you wouldn’t necessarily expect when you’re on board.”
Pleasingly, the pattern, last seen in first class on Japan Airlines, is featured in a calming enough deep blue that it’s elegant across the applications Formia chose.
Your LED-light-sensitive author loves a really comfortable cotton-rich eye-mask, and is perennially keeping and then losing them, and the cotton mask with deep blue paisley would go straight into the “keep” pile.
While the replacement of the traditional largely polyester (and rarely very nice) socks with slippers is notable, your author’s favorite part of the new kit is the little soft-backed Field Notes notebook tucked inside, custom-made by the Chicago-based manufacturer. You could, of course, literally do some storytelling if you want to, but something like a notebook continues the brand relationship story with you after you arrive.
The notebook is small enough to slip into a pocket or pocketbook, while the Aeromexico Eagle Knight logo is just the right level of branding: it doesn’t scream “I got this from the plane” but it’s also enough to remind its user of the company thoughtful enough to provide it.
And the notebook itself is clever in a way that your author only realized after spending a few days using it for all sorts of things. Normally, a hardback notebook like a Moleskine, a Leuchturm, or something similar seems too elegant, too permanent.
Using it for a list of things to pack, or a quick travel to-do list, or to rip out a piece to scribble a phone number on, to use to pass a note to a colleague, or to start scribbling ideas if the nice-glass-of-wine-and-a-comfy-seat onboard inspiration hits feels — well, wrong, somehow.
There’s something about the Field Notes format that is simpler, more transitory, and is thus more likely to be used (and indeed was) than the admittedly lovely hardbacks that are presently sitting in the ‘drawer of nice notebooks to perhaps use some day’ in your author’s office.
It’s this “pop it in your pocket” factor that is crucial to the the idea of storytelling, Formia’s Sandor says.
“There’s very few products on board that can do that, because most of the products are intended to stay on the aircraft — even though they’re removed sometimes! We want consumers to take away that gift and talk about it, remember the journey, and connect to the brand.”
Other airlines should, perhaps, take note.
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