Happy Jetting, Jet Blue Advertising
Founded in 1999 by then CEO David Neelman under the name New Air, Jet Blue reached the title of second largest low-fare airline in the nation by 2006. New Air replaced the desired name “Taxi,” because the company’s board decided that the negative connotations surrounding the word Taxi were too great to use for an airline. Neelman is now the Chairman of Jet Blue, but the airline is no longer a low-fare company.
Many of Jet Blue’s executives, including Neelman, are former employees of Southwest Airline. In the beginning, Jet Blue took a lesson from Southwest and offered low prices. Jet Blue worked to distinguish itself from Southwest only in its amenities, including in-flight entertainment such as TVs and satellite radio at every seat.
Jet Blue flies to 53 destinations in 6 countries, including Bermuda, Bahamas, Aruba, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico, and the United States.
The non-union airline is headquartered in New York. The goal of the company, at least until this year it seems, has been to bring humanity back to air travel. Up until 2008, Jet Blue relied on consumer-driven content for their advertising. The company, and its advertising agencies, believed that by using user generated ideas the campaign would be more engaging to Jet Blue customers.
In 2001, Boston-based advertising agency Arnold Worldwide created the “Somebody Up there Likes You” campaign. The idea was developed from interviews and focus groups conducted by Arnold with Jet Blue customers and employees.
In 2005, Jet Blue introduced tongue-in-cheek, documentary-style advertisements starring their employees with the tagline “Jet Blue Helps Make Your Trip As Easy As Possible.” The commercials opened with the line “We take off, fly around for a while, and then we land.”
By 2006, Jet Blue had a $25 million advertising budget. The money was used to create the “Sincerely, Jet Blue” campaign. A large amount of the budget was dedicated to non-traditional media vehicles including internet, word-of-mouth, and events. Traditional media used included radio, print, billboards, and television. Jet Blue understood that the best way for their company to get people who had not tried the airline to try was to have them hear positive stories from people they knew and trusted. The airline company hired the young advertising agency, Mr. Youth, to help with the campaign. WPP agency, MediaCom, also helped with the media section of the campaign.
The campaign included a lot of hands-on advertising. In Jet Blue’s larger markets, including New York, the airline placed boxes labeled “Help Yourself” in crowded public areas. The boxes held free samples of the snacks served on Jet Blue. In Virginia, Jet Blue sponsored free movie nights at local theaters.
Another component of the campaign included “Story Booths” placed in busy areas. Customers were urged to record their stories about Jet Blue, as well as their opinions, inside of these booths. The recordings could later be used for advertising. Jet Blue also placed branded postcards in each seat pocket of their airline, asking customers to record their thoughts while flying.
Television spots were also released that starred a skier, a newlywed couple, a family from New Jersey, and another starring Neelman himself. Neelman’s commercial showed him discussing how helpful Jet Blue’s call buttons are compared to other airlines – something they still stress heavily on their website.
In 2007, Jet Blue signed an exclusive contract with the New York Times – allowing the media mogul to supply in flight news videos and magazines.
Also in 2007, Jet Blue partnered with 20th Century Fox in conjunction with “The Simpsons Movie.” Jet Blue became “The Official Airline of Springfield.” The airline held a contest in which the winner received a trip to Los Angeles to attend the premier of the film.
Jet Blue also changed their website to reflect the partnership. The website was full of Simpson’s characters telling users about their favorite Jet Blue destinations. The website was even taken over by the shows greedy businessman Mr. Burns.
2007 was also the snowstorm crisis, in which Jet Blue had to cancel 1,096 flights in one day. Neelman was praised for how well he handled the destructive PR for the company. He threw himself into the media, telling numerous live media outlets he was “humiliated” and “mortified” by the situation.
Recently afterwards, Jet Blue created their Customer Bill of Rights, in which customers receive monetary compensation for delays. The airline also released full page newspaper advertisements specific to locations, for example, “We’re Sorry, Boston.” And here we are, 2008. What happened Jet Blue? The airlines current slogans include “Flying Is for Pigeons,” “Thanks for Not Flying on Jet Blue,” and “Happy Jetting.” It’s obvious that a lot of money was put into this campaign – there are ads absolutely everywhere – print, television, online. Jet Blue even created a website for the campaign: HappyJetting.com at which users can read about the “rise of jetting” and the “decline of flying” – fancy lingo for their “history” page.
The site also has a link for a contest to sign up and win flights, and a rigged quiz to find out if you are a Jetter, or a Flyer (do not even bother, you will be a Jetter every time). The interactive website also has a jetting simulator, which is a little like the Sims computer game. You can feed your little guy and even push the call button for a high five from the airline attendant.
When even Ad Age dislikes your advertising enough to write negatively about it, you know you have done something wrong. Ad Age is right Jet Blue, you are not communicating with your consumer the way you used to, and they said it best when they advised your airline to use the money currently being wasted on your campaign, and put it towards your lacking customer service.