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Goats, Gargoyles and the Country’s Greatest Airport

Zack Shockley

Goats, Gargoyles and the Country’s Greatest Airport

We all know the drill: Check your bags. Stand in line at security. Get to your gate. Check your phone. Don’t talk to me and I’ll return the favor. 

In most airports throughout the country, the traveling experience has become far too templatized and mundane. But the city of Denver is a place unlike any other—you never know what you’ll find here. And our airport is no different. 

Back in 2017, Denver International Airport noticed that the typical airport experience was getting stale. DEN decided to take a stand and help travelers get back to enjoying the journey. So we teamed up with the airport and developed a solution: The Art of Airporting. 

The Art of Airporting

Creating a better airport experience began with a creative platform. The Art of Airporting is much more than a catchy name. It’s menus created to satisfy everyone’s palate. Shopping that rivals many a downtown mall. It’s parking made easy and services delivered with a smile. It’s the airport experience thoughtfully and boldly reimagined and infused with Colorado spirit. And it’s a launching pad to guide the ways we surprise and delight passengers during their time at DEN.  

Goat Yoga at Your Gate

Traveling during the holidays can be hectic. Flights get delayed, lines double in length and stress-levels skyrocket. DEN wanted to help travelers relax, so we constructed the DEN Zen Room and surprised unexpecting travelers with something that they would never forget: goat yoga

By creating a space for travelers to escape the holiday hustle, we helped turn long layovers into fun, unforgettable experiences. We built a room complete with mellow music, relaxing imagery, a yoga instructor and of course, baby goats. Then, we tracked down travelers with time to spare and brought them to the relaxation room. But we know that goat yoga isn’t for everyone. So for those who would rather watch sports replays than relax, we brought in former Denver Bronco and local legend Peyton Manning to host sports trivia, take some photos and sign some autographs. The DEN Zen was a hit in the airport and on the internet, being covered by BuzzFeed, Denver Business Journal and more. 

Turning Construction into a Conspiracy

How do you turn a disruptive construction project into a captivating airport experience? In this case, you leverage an airport chock full of conspiracies to engage and inform travelers.

DEN has long been known for its crazy conspiracy theories. We decided it was time to embrace them. The Great Hall renovation project would inevitably cause a disruption to a passenger’s typical airport experience. So why not turn an inconvenience into an opportunity? The way we saw it, these big construction walls weren't just walls; they were canvases primed to hide… I mean host… conspiracy theories. 

The DEN Files set the internet ablaze with millions of social impressions and local, national and international publications covering the signs, one even calling them “the Most Clever Ad Campaign of the Year.VICE, Travel + Leisure, The Guardian, CNN, Newsweek and many others all chimed in with their two cents on the signs. 

To this day, the question remains: What’s really going on behind the walls? Is it construction? Or a coverup?

A Message From the Queen

When Norwegian Air needed help promoting its $179 non-stop flights from Denver to London, naturally, our first thought was to have the Queen of England help us parachuting out of a plane and into a Denver baseball game. 

Before the big jump, we filmed a jumbotron video of our Queen lookalike announcing that she was coming to Colorado to spread the word about Norwegian’s new route. As the video faded out, the “Queen” flew in. After tossing the first pitch, signage around the stadium urged fans to text Norwegian for a chance to win a pair of free roundtrip tickets. The epic stunt became an overnight sensation and was covered by a variety of news networks including Fox31 Denver, AT&T Sportsnet, and the MLB among others.

When Conspiracies Come to Life

After the traction that the DEN Files construction signs picked up, we wanted to keep the momentum going. What better way to fuel the fire than to bring one of these conspiracies to life?  

Inspired by iconic—if not eccentric—airport artwork, we built an animatronic gargoyle to interact with travelers. He talked about the conspiracies surrounding the airport while pushing his own opinions on all things #DENFiles. The unexpected activation came with a few jump scares, lots of laughs, a whole lot of fun and a whole lot of press from websites like Mashable, Thrillist, USA Today, Daily Mail, the New York Post and countless others. 

DEN Turns 25

Check back in with DEN this time next year. On February 28, 2020, the airport celebrates its 25th birthday. And if these activations are any indication, we expect the airport to party all year long.

Rising in the Rankings

Since launching the Art of Airporting, DEN has seen an increase in traffic leading to the airport’s busiest year ever and also overcome chaos caused by a four-year construction project. Rather than stumbling to keep up with the changes, The Art of Airporting has helped DEN alleviate the issues and delight passengers at every step of the way. And DEN isn’t just keeping up; they’re continuing to lead, being pronounced number 1 in the Wall Street Journal's first-ever ranking of America’s biggest airports and touching down at number 1 in the Skytrax Best Regional Airports in North America, 2019.

Kim Day, the airport’s CEO, says “We have really focused these last few years on the customer experience and trying to make the travel experience as least stressful and as most fun as we possibly can.” 

It certainly feels like our efforts are aligning with that vision. Just ask the talking gargoyle.

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