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Sherlock, the Schiphol super dog

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A successful marketing campaign by KLM based around a fictional new employee – Sherlock the dog.


Managing lost property is yet another task among the wide range of activities performed at any of the world’s airports on an on-going basis. This can be a task which consumes a huge amount of resources and space at large international airports. As in all the facets of life, the seemingly most curious solutions can turn out to be the most effective and, as in this case, the most endearing.

Taking advantage of this side of human nature, KLM Airlines recently had the idea of promoting the “personal touch” of their lost and found teaSherlock-videocoverm by using a fictional beagle, which they coincidentally named Sherlock. The idea behind the campaign was to show the effort their staff put into locating the owners of lost objects rapidly and, if possible, within the airport itself. In actual fact the KLM team use a series of new techniques to locate the owners of lost property, including contacting passengers personally via social networks and other modern technologies. And they have demonstrated their knowledge of social networks with this campaign, as the video went viral in a short space of time.

The promotional video was based around using the tracking abilities of this breed of dog, which are used in hunting because of their acute sense of smell. Sherlock had supposedly been trained to follow the trail of the owners of objects left behind by passengers in aircraft and the terminal area. After landing, aircraft crew members make a rigorous inspection of the cabin to check if all is in order or if anybody has left something behind. If any personal belongings are found, then according to the video, Sherlock’s presence was requested. The dog sniffed the object and started to follow the trail, tracking the owners of mobile phones, scarves, fluffy toys, bags, caps and wallets.

In a short space of time, and with the help of social networks such as Twitter and YouTube, Sherlock became the most famous KLM “employee” of all time. Many of the people who use Schiphol’s terminals for their flights will probably now expect to come across the dog, running around with his blue backpack carrying temporarily lost items on its back looking for a passenger who has lost them. Unfortunately however, it was nothing more than a marketing stunt, albeit a very successful one.

In summary, despite the disappointment by many when the fact that Sherlock doesn’t really exist came to light, it is clear that this was a hugely successful marketing campaign by KLM. They have achieved a great deal of coverage for their brand around the world, thanks to modern technology. We are certain there will now be many other airports and airlines across the world which will be looking into implementing similar marketing initiatives.



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