More than just a pretty face

When Caribbean Airlines offered young people a chance to represent the airline, Mirissa De Four went along to spot the winners

Contestants of the Faces of the Caribbean Airlines competition. Photograph courtesy Caribbean Airlines/Stephen Broadbridge

Caribbean Airlines (CAL) flew into uncharted airspace earlier this year when it hosted an online competition, Faces of Caribbean Airlines. The regional air carrier invited young people from around the Caribbean and the diaspora to compete for the chance to represent the airline at sponsored events. Anyone from 18 to 28 was invited to upload a photo and video saying why he or she should be chosen.

And they embraced that opportunity – 967 of them, using any means necessary to encourage people to vote. Some competitors created Facebook groups, using spoof threats (“vote or die”) or outright bribery (one contestant offered cookies) to rake in votes.

Next, CAL turned to Pixie du Coudray, a specialist in marketing, public relations and events management. Du Coudray said 107 participants stood out and it was hard to reduce that number to 60 finalists. The judges were looking for “the overall package – attitude, education, conversation, friendliness, style, confidence, warmth and personality”.

On September 10 the finalists appeared before the judges, who had to make some tough decisions. The final, held in Trinidad, was streamed live online.

The potential “faces” were asked one of five randomly assigned questions to assess their personality and their knowledge of CAL and its destinations. It was clear that some of the finalists were nervous. One, asked which North American CAL destination they would take the family to on vacation, responded: “Suriname.” Another wanted to be a brand ambassador for CAL “because it’s an airline.”

Some gave admirable responses, like Andrei Edoo, who said if he was chosen, he would tell people that travelling with CAL was about “buying an experience, not just a ticket.”
The final 30 came from Canada (1), Jamaica (2), Trinidad and Tobago (26) and the US (1) and were announced that same night. All 60 received units from the Unit Trust Corporation, and Mikhail Baynes won Most Popular Participant (Public Vote), thanks to the 3,755 votes on his online profile.

As brand ambassadors, the winners will appear at CAL-sponsored events to meet and greet customers, explain the details of CAL’s services, and “sell” destinations. Du Coudray will train them for their roles. They will get the opportunity to visit CAL destinations, and of course, the airline will provide their accommodation, meals – and airfare!

 

Where the contestants came from

Antigua, Barbados, Canada, Germany, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, UK, US, Venezuela

The judges

Wendy Fitzwilliam, Miss Universe 1998
Calvin French, fashion photographer
Peter Elias, fashion designer
Courtney McNish, CAL’s vice president of human resources
Ashvin Bally, celebrity hairstylist
Pixie du Coudray