Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Funny add from jetBlue as NY Cabbie charges for bags

In the airline advertising wars, Southwest and JetBlue have come out swinging.
JetBlue has joined Southwest in launching pointed ads aimed at competitors who charge extra fees that irk many passengers.

Charges for checking a bag is a chief target. JetBlue doesn't charge for the first, and Southwest is the only U.S. carrier that allows the first two bags to be checked for free. Most airlines have come to rely on bag fees, which generated more than $1.4 billion during the first six months of this year, according to Robert Herbst of AirlineFinancials.com.

JetBlue's "You Above All" ads, which began Oct. 15 in print and online, highlight the pitfalls of flying other airlines by showing people's reaction if they faced similar situations on the ground.

Taxi passengers, picked up outside New York's Penn Station, for instance, are outraged when a driver tells them they'll have to pay another $25 for the bags they stashed in the trunk. "If you wouldn't take it on the ground, don't take it in the air," goes the tagline. "Check your first bag for free. JetBlue."

See video of the JetBlue ad

"We have a lot of products and service offerings that we believe are much better than that of our competition," says JetBlue spokesman Mateo Lleras. "We really wanted to do something to bring this out and point out the shortcomings of a lot of our industry."

Southwest has a similar goal with its "Good Cop, Bag Cop" ads, that have been running online and on TV since September.

The tongue-in-cheek spots mimic '70s police shows and are the latest addition to Southwest's "Bags Fly Free" campaign that started last year.

"Southwest is always looking for a way to differentiate ourselves within our own industry," spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger says.

Next up? An ad spotlighting how Southwest doesn't charge a penalty for changing tickets. Other U.S. airlines, which charge up to $150 to revise a domestic itinerary, generated $1.2 billion in the first half of this year. The ad should appear in the next few months, Eichinger says.

The campaigns are unusually in-your-face for the industry, says Lopo Rego, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Iowa.

"Airline advertising tends to be much more soft-spoken as opposed to these very comparative, combative commercials that Southwest and JetBlue (are running)," he says.

Customer service advocates say the ads are clever and speak to travelers' frustrations.

"It's awesome marketing," says John Tschohl, president of the Service Quality Institute. Both JetBlue and Southwest "make fun of the bad customer experience."

If such messages are repeated often enough, he says, "These associations become strong, and the brand becomes uniquely placed in a consumer's mind."

(Charisse Jones - USA Today)

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