Skip to Content

The DEN Files

Denver International Airport

The Challenge

The Great Hall renovation project at Denver International Airport (DEN) would inevitably cause a disruption to a passenger’s typical airport experience. We needed to make sure the construction wasn’t just an inconvenience, but also a chance for travelers to learn about the project and maybe even laugh a little.

Our Role

  • Integrated Strategy
  • Creative Strategy Development & Implementation
  • Social and PR
  • Out of Home
  • Experiential

The Solution

Create construction signage that speaks to the project in a way that engages and informs travelers while piquing their interest. DEN has long been known for its crazy conspiracy theories, so we embraced them through creative that gave DEN a personality that’s unique to the airport itself.

Using the construction walls around the airport as opportunities to engage and inform travelers, we opened up the DEN Files as a way to raise awareness. We caught their attention with visually interesting signage, then encouraged them to learn more about the project by visiting and invited them to share their photos using the social tag #DENFiles.

DEN Files got people excited and exploded across social media. So, to celebrate Denver International Airport’s 24th birthday, we decided to bring one of the conspiracies to life, creating an animatronic gargoyle that interacted travelers in real time. We filmed the hilarious interactions and shared the videos, which once again went viral. 

Denver Airport wall wrap featuring a man with the head of a lizard and the words, "What are we doing?"Denver Airport wall wrap featuring a UFO hovering above the airport entrance, with the words "Cool new areas to hang out? or Area 52?"
Denver airport wall wrap featuring a green alien shushing the viewer, and the words "Yes, DEN's got some secrets."Denver airport wall wrap featuring a cat wearing a tin foil hat and the words "What are we creating?"Denver airport wall wrap featuring photos connected together with red string and the words, "New concessions? or new conspiracies?"
Mashup of the many news articles the DEN Files generated.Mashup of the numerous social media posts and comments the DEN files generated.
The DEN Files print advertisement featuring a man wearing a hardhat with an illuminati symbol on it, and the words "Construction? or Cover up?"DEN Files print advertisement featuring a blue horse sculpture shooting lasers from its eyes, with the words "Are we creating the world's best airport, or preparing for the end of the world?"Denver airport wall wrap with a person walking out through a tunnel and the words, "Under construction, or underground tunnels?"
Mashup of the many news articles written about The DEN Files campaign.

The Impact

Without spending a cent on paid media, The DEN Files has generated 704,739,069 impressions and counting, valued at over $8 million. The wide-ranging coverage highlights how you can turn lemons into lemonade, and you can turn a nightmare construction project into a viral dream come true with the proven ROI to convince any skeptic.

Our talking gargoyle reached over 67 million people for a publicity value of over $1.9 million and was covered in 700+ new stories. 


The DEN Files immediately caught traction, even being dubbed “the Most Clever Ad Campaign of the Year.”

Awareness of the campaign and the construction project have both increased and the social tag #DENFiles remains active and is growing organically every day. YouTube channels continue to eat it up, fueling the fire with conspiracy theories of their own. To date, there have been nearly 200 local, national and international articles covering the campaign, including: 

Meanwhile, Twitter and Instagram continue to pour in more posts with praise like: 

“Denver airport is undergoing MAJOR construction! Huge high five to the marketing team who came up with this concept for trying to keep the stressful atmosphere funny!!!”

“If this doesn’t capture what Denver is all about, I don’t know what does.” 

“This is what marketing is all about: embracing what makes your brand unique and getting people talking.”

“This is exactly the kind of strange and interesting things more brands should be doing with advertising.”

The talking gargoyle is causing quite a stir on his own, hitting the pages of Adweek and appearing in dozens of other TV, print and digital media outlets, including the New York Post, USA Today, Fox News and The Drum, to name a few.

The DEN Files campaign was awarded a Silver Addy at the 2019 District American Advertising Awards competition and is in the running for Nationals.

And, even amidst construction, DEN ranked as the fourth-best airport in North America and took the seventh spot out of the world's best regional airports from Skytrax World Airport Awards. 

We're ready when you are

Whether you want to learn more or roll-up your sleeves and get to work, give us a call or drop us a message.
We'd love to hear from you.