Air Transport World

Image is (nearly) everything. (airline advertising)(includes article on ad spending)

When a commercial gets people thinking about the product, it's a success. If people start humming the tune or singing the jingle, it's serendipitous. But if the music becomes a popular song and climbs up the charts, it's an ad manager's desiderata--a summation of his greatest desire.

It has changed Delta Air Lines' image from "what is a Delta?" to one of the most recognizable airlines in the European arena.

Delta realized that the commercial, "Synchronized Flying," had become highly successful when people started calling to ask when it would be shown, so the.v could tape it.

And when the airline became aware that the music was a major reason for the commercial's popularity, it asked the composers, Karl Jenkins and Mike Ratledge, for a longer version. Titled "Adiemus" and recorded by the London Philharmonic, it was distributed to stores throughout Europe.

In Germany, Delta's primary European market, "Adiemus" had risen to No. 13 on the pop charts as of March, with CD sales above 100,000, according to Ian Brocklesby, regional director-advertising, Europe. The tune was No. 8 on the Italian charts.

"In Germany and France particularly, in terms of brand awareness, we were very low. Now, we are matching Lufthansa, which is phenomenal," he said. and while admitting that the survey showing Delta's gains was conducted immediately following the ad campaign, he said: "We are firmly positioned as the alternative, or No. 2 [behind Lufthansa]. And that is also true in France [against Air France] ."

In announcing Brocklesby's promotion from European advertising manager-- as a result of the "outstanding success of [the] advertising," VP-Europe Michael Medlicott said the campaign not only greatly increased the awareness of Delta "in our largest markets but also projected a most favorable image of the company."

Along with producing a hit tune, the Europewide commercial, which features dolphins swimming in water-ballet fashion, also won the Golden Kompass Award for a film commercial at the Prix ITB Berlin 1995 film competition. The campaign began last September, covering 22 countries (ATW, 12/94), and was run through October, then again in Germany, France and the U.K. in January and February.

The goal was totally strategic, i.e., image-oriented, rather than tactical, aimed at developing the concept of the airline's uniqueness a subtle shift in emphasis that more airlines appear to be taking.

"This advertising was not aimed at tactical advertising," Brocklesby said. "It was aimed at conveying the Delta soul. It is important to try and capture some of this Delta soul, because we talk about the Delta family and I think that as a corporate company, we have more of that than most other airlines. …

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