KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Missed Its Landing Into SoHo Next Weekend

On Friday, June 19, I saw a light-post flag promoting a “KLM Pop-Up” in SoHo and shortly after, a similar ad at a bus stop on Canal Street in Chinatown.

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My first response was the ads lack an authentic “Dutch” feel and look rather targeted for tourists and lot locals.

Many international brands choose SoHo for short-term pop-ups, but as I have mentioned before (here) many of these pop-ups fail at attracting local participation due to poor planning and lack of creativity to inspire brand awareness throughout the execution.

For instance, the most popular pieces of the culture of the Dutch include the language, art, architecture, comic strips, music & dance, traditions, cuisine and sports.

Even the paid promotional ads from Thrillist were flat, promoting a “chance to party like a Dutchman” whatever that means? {I would ask for a refund from Jason Schneider ASAP!}


Other ads from NYC Invites and One Mile At A Time make it hard to believe there was much more thought that came into play other than, “Heineken is a Dutch beer…lets hand out free Heineken at the pop-up!”

NYC Invites: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines invites New Yorkers to explore the excitement of a KLM onboard experience while engaging with the best of Dutch lifestyle at its first-ever Pop Up Shop in downtown Manhattan. From Thursday, June 25 through Saturday, June 27, the public is invited to visit Open House Gallery located at 201 Mulberry Street to be transported to a world of interactive airline fun complete with activations and giveaways. The Pop Up Shop opens at 11:00 a.m., and is capped off with a Heineken happy hour and live DJ set at 5:00 p.m. each day.

What exactly is “interactive airline fun” anyways?

I wasn’t able to determine who KLM used for their planning and press, but I highly recommend not using them going forward.  There was no thought whatsoever on making something personal and appealing to local residents {perhaps KLM spent their entire budget renting out the space?}

Here are a few ways that KLM could have executed their 3-day pop-up in SoHo with more success:

  • Partnered with Dutch retailers or stores that carry Dutch brands in the nearby vicinity and created a “flight map” offering certain amounts of “frequent flyer miles” for visiting the stores…and then redeeming the miles at the pop-up
  • An educational language campaign using some of the more familiar phrases, destinations and words:  ‘GOING DUTCH’, GEZELLIGHEID, GEZIN, and EFTELING.
  • Emphasize the Dutch lifestyle and cuisine being centered around fitness and health by NOT offering a “Waffle Happy Hour”…
  • Create a SoHo/KLM flight diary, which is one of the most popular gifts to give and hand them out to local businesses
  • Hosted the pop-up concurrently with one of two most awaited Dutch holidays: the “Koninginnedag” or “Zomer Carnaval” which means “Queen’s Day” and “Summer Carnival”
  • Actually rented a space in SoHo, or not mislead people as their pop-up is actually in Nolita (201 Mulberry)
  • Called it anything other than a “pop-up”…even calling it a “landing pad” or “launch pad” sounds more appealing

Have you seen signs for the KLM pop-up in SoHo?  What did you think?