Airports not likely to rest until every space is covered with an ad

By David Kiefaber on Tue Nov 2 2010


Airports, and the airlines they support, have a curious relationship to their customers, wherein each desperate grab for our money comes in the form of more random charges for stuff that used to be free, crappier service and less comfortable amenities. But they're not done making our travel experience unpleasant, because now airports are letting advertisers install what are basically annoying art installations all over the place to prop up sagging revenue. These interactive digital ads won't be all that bad, but the large banner ads and product placements everywhere will get old fast. It'll eventually reach the point where we'll have to sit through a 30-second ad for Courtyard Marriott before seeing our flight information. It's nice for advertisers, at least for now, but airlines have been seeking a quick fix to their financial troubles for too long, and this is just another excuse for them to ignore how godawful air travel has become. At least until it's time to beg the government for more money.

JetBlue harasses folks on the ground, promises not to in the air

By Elena Malykhina on Fri Oct 15 2010

JetBlue is on cloud nine this week. With creative juices flowing thanks to its new agency Mullen, the carrier has debuted videos on YouTube that show how silly typical airline rules would seem on the ground. In this video, dubbed "Glass Half Full," a New York City street vendor tries to sell half a can of soda in a plastic cup with ice to customers. Expecting a full, unopened can, the pedestrians (who were captured on a hidden camera) express their dissatisfaction. One woman goes so far as to ask if there's something mentally wrong with the vendor. The point of the video? To show that while this stuff might be the norm for airlines, they don't fly on the ground. JetBlue slots the promotional message in at the end: "Get the whole can of soda and free unlimited brand-name snacks." The campaign is Mullen's first work for JetBlue, and includes other videos that show more ridiculous scenarios. See those after the jump.

Continue reading "JetBlue harasses folks on the ground, promises not to in the air" »

Is cultural nostalgia enough to get Pan Am Airlines flying again?

By T.L. Stanley on Tue Sep 21 2010


Everybody knows that glamorous air travel is decades behind us, kept alive only in movies and TV. (See: Mad Men, Catch Me If You Can.) ABC will try to keep the nostalgia going with a new period show based on Pan Am flight attendants—a project that could also be a springboard for reviving the iconic brand. Pan Am went bankrupt and closed down in the early '90s, eventually licensing its name to small carriers. Even that stopped a few years ago, but its classic logo has been at the heart of a must-have line of purses and accessories from designer Marc Jacobs, reports Variety. Now, there are rumblings about bringing Pan Am back as an international carrier. ABC, meanwhile, has ordered a pilot of a 1960s-set drama based on the cosmopolitan cocktail-waitresses-in-the-sky, which would serve as an hour-long prime-time brand builder if it goes forward. Veterans of ER and The West Wing are working on the project. Richard Branson's Virgin America starred in a TV show recently, but Fly Girls didn't last long, done in by canned stories, bad "acting" and pseudo reality. Still, it put the Virgin name on national TV (at no cost to the brand) and generated lots of press. Imagine what could happen with a good show?

JetBlue gets groove back with Sarah McLachlan concert at JFK

By T.L. Stanley on Thu Jul 22 2010


It's a summer of discontent for the live-music business, with major acts shortening their tours or canceling appearances altogether while consumers balk at pricey tickets. But here's one show that won't strain a fan's pocketbook. Sarah McLachlan is playing for free next week at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport as part of JetBlue's ongoing entertain-the-travelers program. (The catch is you have to be flying the discount airline through its T5 terminal at JFK next Thursday or win tickets through Facebook.) McLachlan has a new record out, Laws of Illusion, and her Lilith Fair festival to promote, so the added exposure couldn't hurt. (Lilith Fair canceled 10 of its planned tour dates because of poor ticket sales.) JetBlue will also hype the singer/songwriter across its marketing channels, including in-flight entertainment and social media. The concert program, via Superfly Marketing Group, started last summer with a dozen emerging bands playing T5. Expect more of these kinds of partnerships, with hip marketers latching onto musical artists for entertainment in unexpected places, and performers looking for credible (preferably media-worthy) ways to be heard.

BA's new business service evokes Concorde luxury, if not speed

By Robert Klara on Thu Jul 15 2010


Come September, the venerable British Airways will inaugurate a new, all-business service from New York to London City Airport. (That's the airstrip favored by the private-jet crowd because it's only about seven miles east of downtown, not 45 minutes in the limo from Heathrow.) The new service is plenty nice, using Airbus A318s that will feature cuisine developed at London's acclaimed Roast restaurant. But it's a small detail in the press release that makes us slightly nostalgic. The jets will use flight numbers BA001 and BA004—designations once assigned to the Concorde. 

Continue reading "BA's new business service evokes Concorde luxury, if not speed" »

AirTran's Harry Potter plane, the next best thing to a broomstick

Posted on Thu Jun 17 2010


You don't need to be a Harry Potter fan to wish you could take a ride in a cushy compartment on the Hogwarts Express rather than, say, a commuter train or the family Chevrolet. So, perhaps the folks at AirTran are hoping a little magic will rub off and you won't notice you're stuck in coach. The discount carrier has just unveiled a Boeing 717 that it's christened the Harry Potter 1. The twin-engine aircraft features a magic wand emblazoned across the lower flank of the fuselage, pointing to the highly recognizable lightning lettering from the Potter films—only this time there's marketing alchemy at work. The plane touts the June 18 opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is the latest tract of scream- and profit-generating acreage at Orlando's Universal theme park complex. No doubt Potterites in full withdrawal (the final book in the series exited J.K. Rowling's computer back in 2007) will be waving their own magic wands—or at least their credit cards—to get into the new park. But will they be clamoring for a ride on the Harry Potter 1? Well, maybe if they serve butterbeer.

—Posted by Robert Klara

British Airways denies Osama bin Laden flew on airline recently

Posted on Wed Jun 2 2010


British Airways has been sabotaged! Or so it thinks. The cover of a BA in-house magazine shows an iPhone boarding pass that very clearly has Osama bin Laden's name on the ticket, not to mention his frequent flyer number! Some are trying to pin this unfortunate visual on someone from the airline's cabin crew, which has been striking for a while now. Others are more concerned about how the boarding-pass service could be abused. Tory MP Patrick Mercer says the whole thing exposes "how much easier our enemies might find it to get a legitimate boarding pass under a system using mobile phones." If nothing else, stunts like these invariably cause media panics that just make flying harder for the rest of us, so it's best to discourage them. But credit where it's due—giving Osama a cushy first-class seat was pretty funny.

—Posted by David Kiefaber

Spirit Airlines tries to laugh off public's anger over baggage fees

Posted on Thu Apr 15 2010

Spirit Airlines, the brand that brought you a "MILF" promo and a "MUFF" promo for divers, is attempting to employ its irreverent brand positioning to counter the noxious buzz it incurred after airing plans to charge a $45 fee for carry-on luggage. The point man for this obfuscation is president/CEO Ben Baldanza, who explains in this video that the fees were implemented to address flight delays and long lines prompted by overstuffed overhead bins. With Orwellian logic, Baldanza concludes that the new fees will reduce ticket prices for the average passenger. To make the point, the initial shot shows Baldanza delivering his spiel while positioned sideways in a cramped space. A reveal completes the visual joke: The exec has crammed himself into one of the overhead bins (though it's unclear what's going on with his legs). Will humor deflect the bad PR? Well, Chuck Schumer, for one, isn't amused.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

JetBlue suggests luggage shirts to those who fly Spirit Airlines

Posted on Thu Apr 8 2010


Someone at JetBlue is in a bitchy mood. After Spirit Airlines announced that it will start charging for carry-on luggage on Aug. 1, JetBlue used its "Blue Tales" blog as a platform to drop some cyber-noogies on its rival. The blog pointed to Spirit's press release and then noted: "In case you were wondering, JetBlue will continue to offer a free first checked bag, not to mention that you can bring your Mickey Mouse ears, your magazine collection, your favorite wrinkle-free slacks, and your lunch onboard." To drive the point home, JetBlue exhumed its Extrago Sherpa Shirt, an item that holds "an entire trip's worth of necessities, including the $20 you'll save by not checking a bag," as an alternative for people who fly airlines like Spirit. Since the Sherpa Shirt made its debut a few months ago, there has apparently been some consumer interest in the garment, which resembles the suit that the Tin Man wore in The Wizard of Oz if it were designed by Samsonite. Sadly, the Sherpa Shirt isn't for sale.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Emirates airline brings a branded Bollywood talent show to U.S.

Posted on Thu Mar 25 2010

You don't see a ton of marketing efforts in the U.S. aimed at our Indian American population, so this branded-entertainment effort by the Dubai-based airline Emirates is definitely notable. The airline has produced a "Bollywood variety show" on Star India Plus and SET Asia, two cable outlets that run Indian-focused programming in the U.S. (It also runs on Hulu.) The show, which is called Destination: Bollywood and has separate singing and dancing versions, looks like an American Idol for South Asians, though there's no equivalent of Simon Cowell on board. There's a reason you don't see that many marketing efforts directed at Indian Americans: That population was only about 1.7 million in the U.S. in the 2000 Census, though that number has no doubt grown since then, which means we'll probably seeing more stuff like this in coming years. Hooray for Bollywood!

—Posted by Todd Wasserman



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