The Airlines Think We’re Stupid.
Marketing people worry constantly about the image of the product or service they’re offering to the public. Every visual—from the corporate logo to the format and fonts used on routine correspondence—is carefully designed. There’s an official style manual and woe unto anyone who deviates.
Every so often, a company decides to launch a media campaign to repair or improve its corporate image. That can be a risky proposition if the public already has an image of the company that’s nothing at all like the one being presented to them. In fact, under those circumstances, an expensive advertising campaign can have an opposite effect.
Suppose, in the face of sinking poll numbers, Donald Trump’s campaign strategists decide to produce a series of television spots in which The Donald is portrayed as a warm, sensitive, soft-spoken and caring person. Regardless of our individual opinions, I’m sure we can all agree that almost no one would find that to be a credible campaign. In fact, it would very likely be counter productive.
For some time and in a number of different surveys, this country’s airlines have scored very poorly. American Airlines is rated at the bottom in terms of customer satisfaction. United and Delta have fared better, but just barely.
Of course airline executives are all aware of the low opinion most of us now have of their companies and so our three major airlines are now running television advertising to repair their respective images. They’re spending a great deal of money demonstrating that they think their customers are fools.
Exhibit A today is this offering from American Airlines.
Clearly, the spot was carefully crafted and beautifully executed. But it’s clear that the marketing brains at American simply don’t get it. Praising us for being considerate and experienced passengers isn’t going to change the negative opinion most of us already have of American Airlines.
The message that could improve their image is one that says they’re giving us another couple of inches of leg room, eliminating fees for checked bags, and promising to get me where I’m going on time.
Deliver what you promise. How’s that for a marketing concept!