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Airline Advertising - Worthless?

Mon Nov 18, 2002 1:04 pm

I'm amazed at how much AA spends on advertising. It's not specific advertising, like "buy a ticket on our flights from DFW to Boston". It's generic, telling us why the airline is trustworthy and the travel experience will be pleasant. Question: Does any airline advertising sway you in any way? While I love AA's commercials, that's not why I fly their airline. I love Southwest's commercials - "Wanna get away?", but that's why I fly their airline. Of course, their ad agents would say that subliminally, the message is getting through and that's why I buy tickets to fly on their airline. But I don't think so. What matters to me is convenience and safety. Not seeing gleaming AA jets touch down in their commercials. What about you?
II Cor. 4:17-18

RE: Airline Advertising - Worthless?

Mon Nov 18, 2002 2:27 pm

Dear Sleekjet -
Maybe advertisement agencies know better how to get maximum effect of the commercials and advertisements... Obviously there is a minority of people which are not influenced by commercials - and even another small minority which hates commercials and advertisement so much, that it has opposite results... I think I absolutely hate commercials...
I sometimes watch airline commercials because I am an airline pilot, and like to see what my airline and the others advertise... Clearly, when I fly as a passenger on my own, I am using my airline, or whichever airline that the agreements for ID-90 discounts (90%) rather than ID-75 (75%)...
The fact is - is that I hate commercials, TV or newspaper publicity, that when I am subject to it - I would be customer for the competition... Or the other fact is, when I lived in the US - the constant bombardment of commercials on TV and Radio, made me prefer programs on PBS-TV or NPR... The fact also is that hate "pop" or "country" music... prefer classical or jazz. For newspapers, I try to read those where publicity amounts to a small space of the important first pages of new, the rest is used for trash - or packing...
As to airline xyz - saying "we are the best", especially in a location where they're the major carrier - a quasi-monolopy - is even more ridiculous. AA owns DFW, UA owns ORD, and DL owns ATL... they waste their budgets to advertise in these markets... how can you NOT FLY AA to go to/from DFW...
I hated fast food and McDonald commercials - that is the reason I became a customer for Burger King and, back then in USA, I would drive triple the distance to buy a hamburger at Burger King's, all that to avoid McDonald... negative result of their commercials on me... I even have educated my two kids to do same...
Happy contrails  Smile
(s) Skipper

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RE: Airline Advertising - Worthless?

Mon Nov 18, 2002 5:01 pm

Advertising is essential for many airlines.

Singapore Airlines for example, has built on its reputation on advertising the "Singapore Girl" - which is to exume a feeling of great Asian hospitality and friendly service. Without advertising, I doubt SIA would be where it is now.

I haven't scanned the one in Time magazine that is the most relevant to show this point, but below is another from Time, and a postcard - the same picture is used on advertising.

Anyone can fly, only the best Soar.
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Airline Advertising - Worthless? 90% Of It: Yes...

Mon Nov 18, 2002 8:53 pm

...except you don't exactly know which 90%. Therefore you have to spend the whole amount...That's not from me but from some advertising Guru, just don't ask which one!

I know it's only VfB but I like it!
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RE: Airline Advertising - Worthless?

Mon Nov 18, 2002 10:38 pm

I can tell you for a fact that airline advertising is important, especially for smaller and low-cost/low-fare airlines. You have no idea how many times I checked people in who told me "We didn't even know you were here [in this city]. If we hadn't booked through [a travel agent/the web] we would never have flown you!" With Vanguard, I had to tell my sister that we flew to LAX (way back when), but that was after she'd already bought a ticket on Delta.

For the majors, it might be important to advertise to put a positive face on the airline, especially in the face of mounting losses like those suffered by USAir, United, and American. Also, the general public doesn't really know squat about airlines, so some people forget that USAir and United aren't the same airline. Same with American and AirTran, or AirTran and ATA I've found.

The more times the general public hears a name, the more likely they'll remember it.
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RE: Airline Advertising - Worthless?

Mon Nov 18, 2002 11:33 pm

I once made a purchase based on advertising. I saw the USAirways Shuttles Tripple Miles offer before Delta's so thats how I decided to get to DCA.
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"Traveling light is the only way to fly" - Eric Clapton
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RE: Airline Advertising - Worthless?

Tue Nov 19, 2002 12:40 am

Advertising does work, just not in the way you expect. Lets take a non-aviation matter to highlight a point. We shall pick washing machines. When you see an advert for whirlpool washing machines you dont think "i must go buy one" do you. However when your washing machine breaks down and you buy a new one, you face a choice.

You could buy a Zhigaloco or a whirlpool. You realise you have heard of one, and are therefore more likely to buy it when they are a similar price.

Airline advertising will not work on you as you know all about aviation, and have heard of every airline in the US. You know which are good and which are bad. Think about Mr.Joe Public. he needs to fly from A to B, and when asking his travel agent he finds out that American and ByPla fly this route. As he has heard of American he is far more likely to fly with them. ByPla could even be slightly cheaper but he would still rather trust an airline he has heard of rather than one he hasnt (ok so i made the name up). Why has he heard of American? Because they advertised in the newspaper or on TV. He didnt think anything of it at the time, but now the advertising has payed off!
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RE: Airline Advertising - Worthless?

Tue Nov 19, 2002 12:52 am

Air travel has become a commodity like wheat or pork bellys for quite a few people. It does not matter who supplies it. I think that advertising for purposes beyond ensuring some minium level of brand-recognition is a waste for the majority of domestic passengers in the US. There are very few intangible attributes to an airline seat thus limiting the ability of airlines to differentiate. Coach passengers ultimately care about price and schedule and assume an equal level of safety. Unfortunately for the airlines, very few passengers sense "something special in the air" or notice the "friendly skies." They do remember cheap and on-time.

However, I think that for premium or international travelers or both, advertising can be used to differentiate and is probably a very useful tool for the image conscious and the wealthy.
ont 737
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RE: Airline Advertising - Worthless?

Tue Nov 19, 2002 1:26 am

Word of mouth is better publicity than any TV ad or billboard can offer. However it is essential to get "the word out" sometimes. Southwest current (wanna get away?) ads are great to watch and they are fun to talk about (which could be their goal altogether), but remember that ads saved Southwest early on. Remember when Texas International came after them full force on the Dallas-Houston route(their only profitable route in the Texas triangle). TI cut their fares in half from $26 to $13 bucks. Southwest could not operate in the black with a fare that low (neither could TI) so they started that "no one's going to blow us out of the sky for 13 bucks" (it was worded something like that) marketing campaign. In this you could buy a ticket for 13 if you liked, or you could buy a ticket for 26 and get a bottle of liquor too. If worked like a charm and we can now see where Southwest and TI are today...

However this Southwest one will always be my favorite....

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RE: Airline Advertising - Worthless?

Tue Nov 19, 2002 4:47 am

Advertising is essential for airlines as it generates greater awareness to the viewer of the airline. The advertising is normally targeted to new/potential or existing customers of the airline. Usually to publicise a new product/service in the offering. I could go on ever here talking about all the marketing implications here, but basically you have to promote the right product, at the right price, in the right place and use the most effective mediums in promotion. This concept is also known as the Marketing Mix (4p's)

We may be tired of seeing all those EasyJet billboards, but the fact is EasyJet has a strong brand, and whenever we see the orange colour covered all over a billboard or large white text we straight away associate this to Easy Jet.

As mentioned airlines promote to potential customers by offering a new product. One such recent examples, is that of the new Gulf Air Holidays package. Advertisements have been airing on British-Gulf television channels in the past few months, many of you may have noticed.

Emirates too, are what I consider marketing orientated. They already have a powerful brand and have a strong market position. Advertising is carried out through targeted channels. Adverts are very upmarket and symbolise eliteness.

Airline advertising is not worthless at all. You just have to get the right medium across directly through channels which will attract your biggest target audience.
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RE: Airline Advertising - Worthless?

Tue Nov 19, 2002 3:38 pm

ONT 737,

That's a funny ad. Could you post a better resolution pic? I can't read the fine print even when I zoom in on it.
Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
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RE: Airline Advertising - Worthless?

Tue Nov 19, 2002 4:31 pm

Jhooper: It reads (from what I can make out:

"Okay. We lost our temper for a moment. Northwest didn't lie. And its pant aren't really on fire. Northwest simply excluded Southwest from its comparison.

Fact. According to the US department of Transportations consumer report in May, the real leader in Customer Satisfaction is Southwest Airlines. That means we received the fewest complaints per 100,000 passengers among all major airlines including Northwest.

More facts. The Department of Transportations Consumer Report also shows Southwest Airlines (best in on-time performance highest percentage of system-wide domestic flights arriving within 15 minutes of schedule, excluding mechanical delays), best in Baggage Handling (fewest mishandled bags per 1000 passengers) as well as best iin customer satisfaction from January through August 1992 (!) It's all there in black and white. Fly the real No.1. You'll know theres no substitute for customer satisfaction."

It's true. Adverts do work. Whether you hate the advert or love it, the product advertised will always stick in your mind if you know the ad.
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RE: Airline Advertising - Worthless?

Tue Nov 19, 2002 10:32 pm


Remember, the average consumer doesn't buy straight wheat or pork bellies. They buy Frosted Flakes and Land O' Lakes Ham. It is the aircraft that has become the wheat or pork belly to the consumer, not the airline.

Think about it: Would you rather buy General Mills Cheerios or Malt-O-Meal Oat Os? Most people would rather buy Cheerios, simply because a) they've heard of it, b) it's in a nicer package, and c) they understand (or believe) that advertising=brand name=quality.

On the other hand, it is interesting to note that a lot of Brand Name products are manufactured on the same line as generic and they just get a different box.

Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.
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RE: Airline Advertising - Worthless?

Wed Nov 20, 2002 5:35 am


That's true that airlines are not quite as generic as wheat or pork bellies. But once you get down to the established names UA, DL, AA, CO, NW, WN, and US-- the main factors are price and schedule. I would also argue that is not merely the aircraft that has become the commodity but the service as well. Trail mix is trail mix and cola is cola no matter who is handing it to you. The point I am making is that they all have identifiable brands and there are really no equivalents to "Malt-O-Meals" in the airline industry that have lasted more than 5 years. Thus I think any advertising expenditure beyond simply keeping the brand name in front of the public is a waste when directed at majority consumers.

All of the stuff I said pertains strictly to the US domestic market.

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