For her European travels, she invented her own language — Springlish, an amalgamation of English, French, Spanish and Italian. She has a favorite seat on 763, 777 and MD80 airplanes, and if it’s not available, she sometimes changes her flight. And she once packed for a weeklong business trip in seven minutes. That’s why Caryn Carson is American Airlines’ American Way magazine’s 2010 Road Warrior.
Just making it into the final five was a thrill, the Tenet Healthcare attorney says. (Entrants had to write reasons why they are “Road Warriors”, as well as a rock-album based travel essay). “It is a pretty well-publicized contest, so there was a lot of competition,” she says.
When American Way let her know she was a finalist, they told her to get her campaign together. They weren’t kidding. In order to win the grand prize — 2 million Hilton HHonors bonus points, 1 million AAdvantage bonus miles, a BlackBerry Storm smartphone and a $100 Verizon Wireless gift card — she would have to procure more online votes than the other four finalists.
“I thought about past successful political campaigns when determining my strategy,” she says.
East Dallas-based director David Blood helped her shoot and edit clever You Tube commercials — one a political campaign parody and the other a contest headquarters break-in farce — to attract votes. “I basically had two ideas, and those were the two ideas we used for the videos,” she says. “I would not have known how to do any of this. I couldn’t have done it without [David’s] help.”
Blood says it was a team effort. “I was super psyched when I found out she’d won,” he says. “I hope the videos helped, but I think word of mouth helped as much.”
For the photo shoot, American Way dressed Carson as Steven Tyler from Aerosmith, based on the theme of her travel essay. “It was a little embarrassing, but I thought to myself, ‘Caryn, you did all this work. Who cares if it’s embarrassing?’ ”
Carson donated a portion of her winnings, 200,000 airlines miles, to the Stewpot, a Dallas-based resource center for the homeless, and though she ran an incredibly successful campaign, she says she doesn’t have much in the way of political aspirations. The experience did cause her to consider new possibilities.
“The contest awoke a few things in me. I tapped into different parts of myself. It made me think about other things I might enjoy doing in my life,” she says.
She not exactly sure how she’ll make sense of it all, but the sky’s the limit.