The Marketing Doctor does not have a crystal ball but sometimes he scares himself with his forward-looking instincts. Last week I brought up JetBlue and my sense that it needed to get back to brand basics and remember the customer! From a branding standpoint, JetBlue had built a great brand by remembering the customer and, perhaps most important, showing the customer that it was remembering him or her! This combined with consistently low prices made them grow (see here for the rest of last week’s thoughts on the airline).
This week’s stories make my points about JetBlue even more relevant! The latest embarrassing news is about a man who is suing JetBlue for making him sit in the lavatory for most of a cross-country journey so an off-duty flight attendant could have his seat. An amazing story if true and amazing timing since JetBlue launched its “happy jetting” ad campaign on the same day.
Lewis Lazare over at the Chicago Sun-Times (see his article here) says that the “happy jetting” ads have been done with “excessive cleverness” and his description of their many abstract images et cetera makes me think he is right! Sounds like the creatives are running the show again! Big mistake! The Marketing Doctor’s mantra: “Always avoid advertising that are over clever and over promise.”
There is nothing abstract about a passenger claiming that he was forced to sit in a lavatory for an entire flight and, as I tell my clients when they are tempted by overly clever advertising campaigns, good advertising is never subtle! And it better be true! In 1960, Piels beer had a great ad campaign built around Bert and Harry, its famous spokesmen. The ads worked so well that they put the company out of business! That’s right! Because the ads got consumers to taste the beer and when they did they hated it!
So advertising should never be subtle and it better present a pretty accurate picture of what the consumer is likely to experience with the brand! This is especially true when you are trying to affect brand damage control. Simply papering over the brand damage with pretty images and humor can’t work because brand damage is like physical damage! Brand damage is very real and requires serious re-constructive work to fix the problem.
Marketing is the new advertising and an ad campaign alone just can’t do it all anymore for a brand! For starters, in JetBlue’s case I would advise supplementing the marketing campaign with hands-on promotions to ensure that their target market and loyal customers are re-assured about the brand first. And, assuming operations are really up to snuff, I’d actively get new people to fly JetBlue through discount offers and promotionals built around a try it/you’ll love it model.
Ultimately, JetBlue’s renewed brand success is going to grow on positive word-of-mouth because that’s how it grew in the first place! So this means making sure that at every place the customer is meeting the JetBlue brand he or she is walking away happy!
Remember, it’s always easier when you keep branding in mind!
TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAY –
“Brand damage” is real and only real effort and change can correct it!