Fly Responsibly

Fly Responsibly

Fly Responsibly established KLM as a leader that speeds up progress towards sustainable aviation. It is much more than just a campaign. KLM offers free use of its expertise and tools, and calls upon everyone – including travellers – to contribute.

We developed the Fly Responsibly concept. Much more than just an advertising campaign, it is an initiative that invites both decision makers (in the industry and beyond) and consumers to join KLM in making aviation more sustainable. It symbolises a new mentality: the responsibility we should all have for our planet. It made KLM open up and reach out to all stakeholders. To share its sustainability knowledge, tools and best practices (like their CO2 compensation tool) for free. To activate everyone to contribute.

We kicked off with an open letter in global authoritative newspapers, calling upon decision makers and air travellers to consider their responsibility and take action. This was supported by a website that consisted of 3 sections: what we do, what the industry can do, what you can do. In addition, we developed a PR video (created without CO2 emissions) and communicated the initiative through billboards at airports, in-flight films, email, KLM’s social channels, owned media and booking tool. From the launch the Fly Responsibly logo was used in all KLM communications, even in sales messages.


The Fly Responsibly initiative is no greenwashing. KLM genuinely takes climate action. Through free publicity, Fly Responsibly generated over €30 million extra media value (and still counting), reaching millions. Competitors have already responded to the initiative: BA, AF and EasyJet have committed to compensating CO2 emissions. In September use of KLM’s CO2ZERO tool increased by over 300%. KLM truly takes climate action.

For several years in a row the results of KLM’s Brand Image Monitor Survey indicated the growth of the importance of sustainability considerations in buying flight tickets. The latest figures showed that, in most key markets, over 70% of respondents answered the question ‘How important is sustainable travel to you?’ with ‘important’ or ‘very important’.

If an airline stands up and takes the lead in sustainability it will evoke criticism, because aviation is responsible for 2 to 3% of CO2 emissions caused by humans worldwide. Our insight: people long for a company to take climate action but no airline dares to publicly take the lead.

Under the radar, KLM already was in the lead. If it would stand up and call upon all stakeholders – aviation industry, governments and travellers) to take action, if it was prepared to share its sustainability expertise and tools for the sake of progress, if its striving was sincere, if it communicated openly and was prepared to discuss all options with all stakeholders, the end result would be positive for both the brand and our planet.

This year KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The brand wants to be seen as the most customer-centric European network carrier.

With customer-centricity as a foundation, for quite some years KLM communications focused on the fact that the airline truly cares for its passengers and for people in general. After a range of very successful brand activations around this theme, client asked us to develop a campaign that would take the message that KLM truly cares for people to the next level. Objectives: a) generate maximum brand awareness, b) generate maximum brand sympathy in all markets the brand operates in, with a focus on their key markets.

Sustainability considerations impact travel decisions more and more, and people want companies to take action. Research pointed out that for people who choose to fly KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, sustainability is even more important than for air travellers in general.

To celebrate KLM’s 100th anniversary without addressing the topic was unthinkable. For the past 14 years it has been in the top 3 of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, but it did not claim its leadership role publicly. We felt an airline with this track record was in the position to take ‘truly cares for people’ to the next level by claiming the role as industry leader in sustainability. This would definitely have a positive impact on brand awareness and sympathy plus progress towards sustainable aviation.

Fly Responsibly

Jury Feedback


The boldness of the action from KLM is what makes this standout initially, however on closer inspection the true genius of this strategy is what makes it stand out. KLM cleverly calculated the risk before taking the leap, they knew that the risk to them could be mitigated if they got the rest of the industry on board. By taking the leap and having the guts to lead the conversation ensured that KLM achieve the brand awareness and sympathy it craved. Leading the conversation, inviting others to take responsibility for your collective actions ensured favourability for KLM. What seemed risky to being with, was just super smart strategic rigour - and not real risk to the KLM's commercials. If we have one negative comment we would have liked to have seen more action from KLM - put your money where your mouth is and reduce or remove short haul flights - and show us the impact this campaign had on flights.