Air Transport World

Selling the airline: carriers continue to spend on marketing and advertising in hopes of leaving a lasting image with the public.(Marketing)

You've got to spend money to take money. Easier said has done when it comes to the airline industry; where cash is a scarce commodity at any time and particularly when oil prices are through the roof and fares are under attack by a bevy of lower-cost operators with a simple message: "We're cheaper."

Still, there are signs that legacy carriers are sticking with the adage and pressing forward with marketing campaigns to bolster their public images, clearly define their brands or boost themselves a notch ahead of the competition. "The adage should be spending money wisely, appropriately and smartly in order to make money," corrects British Airways VP-Marketing-North America Elizabeth Weisser. "Having a presence in the marketplace during a downturn is particularly important."

BA recently kicked off a multimillion-pound marketing campaign, "Go with those who know," which highlights the essence of travel to the UK with good-natured humor featuring London attractions. It reinforces brand image, tells the BA story and attempts to focus on the "style of our brand--professionalism, heritage, reliability and the quality of what we do. That's what customers value about BA," Weisser says. The focus is on the overall BA product rather than fares, she tells A TW. "Being an international airline, we are talking to a niche market. You have to have a passport and an interest in international travel. There is competition out there. The way we do things has to be in the style of our brand."

BA's oneworld partner American Airlines also is spending money to make money, having rolled out an ambitious $60 million marketing and advertising campaign in September built on the catchphrase, "We Know Why You Fly." MD-Brand Development and Advertising Rob Britton says it is the first new branding campaign in a decade for American, succeeding "Something Special in the Air. …

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