Posted October 30, 2008 by Nicki Krawczyk
Let’s talk advertising theory for a moment. (Just a moment, I promise.) In general, you want to convey to your potential customers the benefit to them of your product. For example, it doesn’t matter to anyone but the puffed-up CEO that Acme Co.’s new mousetrap reflects 50 years of research and it’s green. NEW AND IMPROVED GREEN MOUSETRAP! 50 YEARS OF RESEARCH WENT INTO OUR BRAND NEW MODEL! The mousetrap buyer doesn’t care. He wants to hear that it’s going to kill a mouse. Fast.
Which brings me to American Airlines’ new TV ad. The ad (as you can see below, should you choose to click) depicts a sports agent and his doofy, tall, presumably basketball-playing client traveling all around the world to try to get this clumsy fool a contract. OK. So then at the end of the ad, after this agent has finally gotten his client a job, they prepare to board a plane, the sign at the gate flashes “Going the distance for your client,” and the voice-over announces: “American Airlines. We know why you fly.”
Okay, so, you know why I fly. And, believe me, I appreciate that. How nice of you. There are so many reasons to fly, it’s got to take a lot of effort to keep track of all of that. Flying to visit grandparents. To find cheaper real estate in Tennessee. To flee Colombian drug cartels. Thanks for staying on top of that.
Unfortunately for American, the unexpected by-product of a benefit-less ad like this is a follow-up question. Specifically: “You know why I fly? Okay, what are you going to do about it?” Oooo. Probably not the response they were hoping for. I’m going to guess they were going for “good will” and “making a connection with their customers”. But by not letting people know what American is doing to make flying more pleasant, people are going to focus on why it’s unpleasant.
Which is not to say that other airlines aren’t guilty of this kind of real-information deflection, as well; But if you’re looking to set yourself apart and win back some loyalty, this kind of ad may require a follow-up. People are smart enough to see behind the story nowadays. The best way to win loyalty? Give your customers real reasons – benefits – to fly on your airline.
Or maybe just some cake. (Take advantage of low expectations, American; it’s not gonna take much.)
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