D L X wrote:
Where does it say A350?
On their website. Interestingly, when I pull up flights on exactly those same dates, to exactly the same destination, whenever a schedule says "Flagship"
that is followed by "A350
".https://www.delta.com/flight-search/sea ... ce2be099c6
Surely you wouldn't doctor an image to try to prove a point... would you?
If I recall, what DL initially did was to indicate they were using their "Flagship A350" by putting just the word "Flagship" in that little box, apparently intending to mean, "The aircraft we're using on this flight is our flagship, which is the A350." They subsequently revised their web site to add "A350" after the word Flagship, possibly as a result of American losing its mind.. On its own, does the word in the box mean "Our Flagship", or does it mean "Flagship Service"? I think AA started putting that latter term (or something similar) on its schedule listings to highlight the "potential confusion".
Trying to be objective, I think it is highly-unlikely that anybody would see the word Flagship on a Delta schedule and think that this was an American flight, or somehow associate it with American. DLX correctly makes the point that AA has spent $$ over the years to associate the word "Flagship" with their service, and that would be evidence of consumer association with AA -- if it worked. As I pointed out earlier, you can spend a fortune promoting a very-weak and inherently-not-distinctive mark like Flagship, and it doesn't make it a stronger mark just because you did that (legally, I guess, the promotion can be seen to enhance the distinctiveness, but, on its own, the word is a loser, and its going to be a fun battle of the experts/pollsters [who are recently not seen as the savants they once were seen to be] as to how effective that promotion of the word was). I'm all about the airline biz, and yet it took this lawsuit to jog my memory that Flagship had anything whatsoever to do with American Airlines, who I generally don't fly.
True trademark story: The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead (in Atlanta) was the first of the modern Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company brand. It was developed by a guy named William B. Johnson, who in his obituary in the WSJ four years ago was dubbed a "Waffle King" in the headline. I'm sorry to say that I had a hand in attaching that somewhat-disdainful moniker to him twenty-something-years earlier in a bare-knuckles lawsuit arising from Ritz's alleged mismanagement of 4 hotels owned by our client, and flagged and managed by Ritz. Johnson, see, before he became a big-time hotel developer had made a fortune by being the largest franchisee of Waffle House restaurants. He wanted to build a fine hotel in Buckhead, because he knew and loved Atlanta. He got very far along in the development process for the property, with detailed plans and architectural drawings. The name he had decided upon for the place was...wait for it..."Monarch". To him, that sounded great. Sorry, I'm not likely to pay $500 a night in the 80s-90s to stay at a place called the Monarch, no matter how much promotion you do for it. Not distinctive. Johnson, however, had a brainstorm when he stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Boston one night, the lone survivor of what was I think 2 hotels that Cesar Ritz established in the US (the other had been in NYC) around the turn of the previous century, after running the Ritz in Paris and the Ritz and the Carlton in London. The family that owned the Boston hotel (and the Ritz-Carlton name) had licensed the name to the developers of a hotel on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, then operated by the Four Seasons. They had also licensed the name prior to that to a different developer who had refurbished two existing hotels, one in NY and one in DC, and wanted to class them up a bit with a better name. (Al Gore grew up in the DC one under its then name.) But that was it. Johnson wasn't stupid (just unimaginative in his original name choice), and ultimately made a deal where he bought the name, subject to the NY, DC, Chicago and Boston licenses, with the idea that he might want to develop some more hotels after he finished the now-renamed Monarch. The Buckhead place was a huge hit, and he turned The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company into a noted Flag (brand) for and/or operator of hotels owned by others (as well as a few more he developed) during the Greed is Good 1980s and 1990s. It had a very-unique management and operating style that eschewed a lot of policies and procedures typical of the hospitality business, which was ultimately one of our client's complaints, when he investigated after being unsatisfied with the financial results.
Ultimately, years later, Johnson sold the whole shebang to Marriott, which was coming to realize that the name "J. W. Marriott" wasn't a distinctive enough brand name to apply to hotels that they were developing to compete with the Four Seasons at the highest-price end of the market. Those JW Marriotts were schwanky, but the name didn't work, because all anybody saw was "Marriott", and the public had a perception of Marriotts as good, well-run hotels, but not anything uber-fancy. So Marriott bought Ritz-Carlton with the idea of leaving it alone to do its "magic", but ended up changing some of the things, frankly, that we were fighting about in our lawsuit. Marriott is a company with a lot of integrity, and I personally think they saw what we saw. And, full-circle, Marriott recently-ish de-flagged the Buckhead property from Ritz and changed its name to the Whitley Hotel last year after a major renovation.
I tell this whole story because it illustrates how much distinctive names (trademarks) matter. There was in fact absolutely no historical connection between Cesar Ritz's company and hotel operation and the current Ritz-Carlton, despite what Wikipedia says. The current one was all Bill Johnson, building a company that delivered an exceptional hotel experience worthy of the name that he purchased, even if the hotel building owners weren't happy with the financial results at one or more points. If Johnson had called the Buckhead hotel the Monarch, I am confident that he wouldn't have been able to Flag and operate for other owners so many dozens of highest-end hotels, no matter how successful he ended up being in the local Atlanta market. Same for Marriott. They bought Johnson out because their fabulously-well-known brand, Marriott, actually limited their ability to make money using their full founder's name with pride as the brand for their ultra-luxury hotels. People didn't get the distinction. The JW wasn't distinctive enough from the mother brand for people to understand that it was something other than what the name Marriott would condition them to expect.
And it's in light of these kind of highly-distinctive, household-name trademarks, of which the actually-rather-dull name American Airlines has become one due to consumer recognition, that we consider "Flagship", which I put even lower than "Monarch" in the scheme of things (because Monarch as a brand for something can in no way be descriptive, whereas Flagship actually can, as shown by how Delta is using it).
And at the end of the day, the most remarkable lesson about branding is that a name I helped give to a guy over and over in lawsuit papers and press releases ended up being in the headline of his obituary.
Last edited by wjcandee
on Mon Dec 07, 2020 8:19 am, edited 2 times in total.