By Shashank Nigam

Marketing only stays relevant by recognizing the macro-trends that impact customers. Airline marketing is no different. Airlines know that travel has been on the minds of everyone, especially with all the restrictions and rhetoric since Donald Trump’s election as the US president. Taking a political stance in airline marketing can be risky, as it may offend some people.

Yet, four airlines have stood out in their efforts to pay heed to the winds and address the concerns their fliers may feel. We commend these airlines to have tried and largely succeeded, in showing how travel has changed the world in an irreversible manner. By taking a stand in the current state of political affairs, they would hope to attract loyalty from discerning passengers who go beyond prices when they choose their next flight.

Turkish Airlines highlights differences at Super Bowl 51

Turkish Airlines is known for its daring marketing efforts that regularly go viral – from Kobe vs Messi to the magician who performed their latest safety demo. The airline ran an advertisement at Super Bowl last year and was back this year, though with a message we are not used to hearing from Turkish Airlines. Out with the fun and play. In with the somber voice of Morgan Freeman.

Indeed, Morgan Freeman stars in the latest airline marketing campaign from Turkish Airlines that was released at Super Bowl 51. And he speaks in his soothing, calming voice, about honoring differences and flying the airline’s network around the world (they fly to more countries than anyone else).

YouTube Preview Image

In addition to almost 800 million eyeballs that were exposed the advertisement at Super Bowl, almost five million people have watched it on YouTube alone. While it is a timely advertisement, it stands out as something very different from what we have started to expect from Turkish Airlines. There were no sports icons, no magic tricks. No scenes from their network around the world. Just a few shots of the cabin, some nice scenery and lots of Morgan Freeman. Perhaps that was the intended purpose of this airline marketing effort by the airline – to stand out from what they have done in the past.

Royal Jordanian’s guerilla marketing

Back when Trump talked about the #MuslimBan while campaigning, Royal Jordanian launched a campaign that chided the potential ban and encouraged travelers from the Middle East to visit the US while they still could.

The campaign generated close to 14,000 shares and likes on the airline’s Facebook page with more than 2.5K overwhelmingly positive comments to date. And like President Trump himself, Royal Jordanian’s highly unusual ad campaign made headlines around the world on Election Day and beyond and has been written up everywhere from Business Insider UK to the digitally native news outlet Quartz and even NBC News. That’s a lot of PR for an airline that’s not as often in the news as its competitors. This was featured as a case in our airline marketing benchmark report  in December 2016.

The best part is that Royal Jordanian just released a sequel to this hit! Just when there was a window of opportunity for people from a few countries to travel to the US, the airline released another salvo. And it’s working just as well as the last time.

Aeromexico’s ad in response to Donald Trump

Everyone knows that Trump wants to build a wall on the American border with Mexico. Yet, it is a fact that almost half of all Mexicans get to the US by air. Aeromexico took the high ground on the debate even before Trump was elected to office and came up with one of the best airline marketing campaigns last year. Created by Ogilvy and Mather Mexico, it talked about the virtues of travel and how it breaks borders.

While the video is not hosted on AeroMexico’s official channels, it has already amassed over 1.4 million views and is surely worth a watch. This was featured as a case in our monthly airline marketing benchmark report back in June 2016!

YouTube Preview Image

Royal Brunei Airlines sends all-women crew to Saudi Arabia

Earlier last year, Royal Brunei Airlines made waves around the world when they had an all-women crew pilot the 787 Dreamliner on a flight to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. There are two significant milestones here. Firstly, it is rare to have an all-women crew in the cockpit anywhere in the world. Secondly, they flew the aircraft from Brunei (which had just implemented Sharia law), to Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive. It was the story of ambition and defiance of epic proportions and the world took notice.

Royal Brunei female crew

This was possibly Royal Brunei’s biggest PR coup in the last five years – the ladies were interviewed on Al-Jazeera, the news was in mainstream newspapers like the Telegraph and tabloids like the Daily Mail and more. The Captain of the flight, Sharifah Czarena commented, “As a woman, a Bruneian woman, it is such a great achievement. It’s really showing the younger generation or the girls especially that whatever they dream of, they can achieve it.”

Future of airline marketing

When I was in Brunei last month, I spoke with the Royal Brunei executives to find out the story behind the marketing win. It turns out that this wasn’t a campaign that was planned months in advance or had the approval from several committees. Rather, a small group of Communications and Marketing leaders conceptualized it for International Women’s Day and put it out. They then basked in the glory of their efforts. Similarly, Royal Jordanian’s efforts succeeded due to a very quick turnaround. At AeroMexico and Turkish Airlines, some senior marketing leader bit the bullet and authorized agencies to executed on the strong political message.

In the future, the most successful airline marketing efforts will continue to reflect both the speed of execution and a strong stance. After all, a brand that tries to please everyone ultimately doesn’t end up getting business from anyone.

Do you know of other airlines that have taken a strong political stance in the recent times? Did it work or fail?

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam is the CEO of SimpliFlying and a globally sought-after consultant, speaker and thought-leader on airline branding and customer engagement strategy. He is also the youngest winner of the Global Brand Leadership Award and has addressed senior aviation executives globally, from Chile to Canada and from Sydney to San Francisco. Shashank's perspectives have found their way into major media outlets, including CNN Travel, CNBC, MSNBC, Bloomberg UTV, Mashable and in leading publications like Airline Business, ATW, Aviation Week, and others. Shashank studied Information Systems Management and Business Management at Singapore Management University and Carnegie Mellon University. Hailing from India, he splits his time between Singapore and Vancouver, among other cities.
Shashank Nigam
Shashank Nigam

Related Posts
×

Glimpses of SimpliFlying MasterClasses

[justified_image_grid preset=16 load_more=once facebook_id=281699728546545 facebook_album=625135130869668,523567647693084,495402663842916,614424888607359,487598837956632,485943598122156,717097075006806,468024249914091,422283264488190,573269512722897,556111114438737,564296266953555,554272487955933,554703807912801  facebook_caching=1440 facebook_image_size=normal facebook_count=no fb_actual_cover_photo=yes]

×

Leave your credentials here and we will email it shortly.

Airline Marketing Benchmark Reports Sample

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

Crisis Communications Reports

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×
×

State of Airline Marketing 2014

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

State of Airline Marketing 2013

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

State of Airport Marketing 2013

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

6X Whitepaper

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

Loyalty eBook

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

Top 30 Case Pack

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

Custom Audiences Loyalty Whitepaper

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

Airline Social Media Outlook 2015

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

Loyalty Marketing Benchmark Reports

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

Expert Insights on Airline Marketing

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

Airport Marketing Benchmark Reports

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×
×
×

Airline Marketing Innovations Lab

    We will follow up shortly via email regarding further information.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

Soar

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

Airline Social Media Outlook 2016

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×
×

State of Airline Marketing 2016

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

Crisis Starter Guide 2016

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

Crisis Starter Guide 2016 - Non Airlines

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

Nomination for SimpliFlying Awards

×

SimpliWishes

×
×

SOAR Book Launch

  • Date: Feb 20, 2017 Time: 6 PM Venue: Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

SOAR Order

  • Price: $24.98 Quantity:
    *Get a discount for an order of over 100 books
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

SimpliFlying Airline Social Media Outlook 2017

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

SimpliFlying Airline Social Media Outlook 2017

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

PRICED TO SHARE

You can order one copy for $25. Though, our real hope is you’ll order a bunch of them and distribute/sell/give away copies to your friends and colleagues. So if you order five, we’ll send you ten. And if you order 40, we’ll send you a hundred. That’s as low as $10 a book, just so you can share the knowledge!

 

Enjoy!

×
×
Webinar SimpliFlying -15below
×
Download a sample chapter of SOAR

Leave your credentials here and we will email it shortly.

×
SOIR 2017

Airline Marketing Trends Report (State of the Industry)

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

Institute - Sign up for "Spotter"

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

Institute - Corporate Enquiry

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
×

Institute - Request for More Information (General)

×