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Special Project

Special Project
From the 8th Annual Shorty Impact Awards

Gaining Altitude: Season 2

Entered in Branded Series, Hospitality & Travel


Branded content is forecasted to grow 5x by 2025, according to the Drum. With so many brands creating original series, it’s clear this is a marketing approach that matters, but a challenging space to stand out in. 

But for Delta’s Gaining Altitude Series, the idea to create an original series wasn’t per se in reaction to its popularity. The idea sparked during the Covid-19 pandemic, specifically as the world grieved the murder of George Floyd. This was a mournful and reflective time. This was also a challenging time for the aviation industry. There were plenty of business challenges keeping our operation stretched thin, but to us pausing to recognize the cultural pain and impact of the moment was imperative. 

As we listened to our people, more and more we felt the need to create an outlet to talk about the tough topics unfolding around us. We knew we had to act: And from there, the idea to create Delta’s Gaining Altitude series took flight. Remotely, Delta quickly built an original, interview-style series with inspirational leaders of all kinds. 

Reflecting on the first season’s ability to spark conversation with our people, Delta was ready to come back with a new season for 2023. But we couldn’t simply pick up where we left off in season one. Our comeback season was returning with completely different dynamics.

Strategy and Execution

Aiming to think beyond just the original content, our team started at a conceptual level, developing a style guide for season 2 that would feel special, yet connected to Gaining Altitudes’ debut season.

We revisited many creative decisions for Season 2 because while Gaining Altitude would continue to be an opportunity for our CEO Ed Bastian to sit down with other leaders to have “conversations worth navigating,” Season 2 episodes would be more consumer-facing, and shot ‘out in the world’ or around Delta’s operation rather than remotely with pandemic limitations. 

True to form for an airline, the set for season 2 will be traveling. Being on the other side of the pandemic gives us the luxury of sending Ed out in the world to meet other leaders and learn by walking in their world. Having a moving set, also allows us to showcase how the places of each interview reflect the personalities and backstories of each featured guest. We also chose to travel to expansive spaces, so the atmospheres we filmed in would feel fitting for the big and wide-reaching topics covered in each episode. 

Given these considerations, it felt only fitting to film episode one’s conversation with Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta United soccer team and Falcons NFL team in the Mercedes Benz Stadium, an iconic Atlanta arena for a wide variety of sporting events. The conversation opened the floor for Blank to share his perspective on the intersection of business and purpose-led values, philanthropy, sports and so much more. 

The second episode came to life on site at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta as Ed Bastian met with guest Raphael Bostic, an economist, President and CEO of the Bank of Atlanta to discuss his perspective on economic equity and leadership. 

All together, Gaining Altitude season 2 aims to engage both our employees and consumers in dialogue across a number of digital touchpoints including YouTube, Delta’s owned social channels, leader LinkedIns, the Gaining Altitude microsite, emails, and onboard.

What makes Delta’s Gaining Altitude series, and particularly this new season most exciting is the season’s expansive perspective. At Delta we believe that we’re always learning, and this original content allows us to do just that — listen, learn, engage and take future actions to create positive change with a ripple effect that has the potential to transcend far beyond the aviation industry.


We’re only one episode in with results, and already season 2 is delivering beyond expectation to spark engagement and conversation among our people and consumers. Season 2’s results also show promise that our elevated approach to filming and our more consumer-focused media approach is working. 

At this rate, cumulatively season 2 is on track to significantly expand Gaining Altitude’s reach and social impact relative to the first season, when measured by Delta’s own internal and external media channels. 

From Gaining Altitude’s first episode alone, the new season’s impact was impressive: 

For benchmarking, cumulatively Gaining Altitude Season 1, which shared content live and primarily focused on our employee audience, resulted brought in the following: 

A sample of noteworthy, S2 Episode 1 employee comments are quoted below: 



Video for Gaining Altitude: Season 2

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Delta Air Lines

Entry Credits