Posted by Barry Silverstein on July 26, 2010 03:00 PM
Many airlines have started to charge for everything from meals to blankets in an effort to generate revenue any way they can. Air travel, in fact, has been stripped down to basics and as a result, feels to travelers like more of a commodity.
That's why it becomes more important for an airline to differentiate itself in other ways — and that's what Cathay Pacific is doing with its latest ad campaign.
Instead of pitching routes, prices, or on-board features, Cathay Pacific is taking a decidedly different approach by focusing on real employees who make the airline's service stand out in a campaign that lets the flying public "meet the team that goes the extra mile."
The airline is using a dozen employees who work in different areas as spokespeople, sharing details about their backgrounds in ads executed for print, television, online, and outdoor placed in cities around the world. At the same time, the company is featuring these and other employees on a special website designed for the campaign, giving customers an inside look at these employees' lives and interests.
Vince Viola, managing director of Cathay's ad agency, McCann Erickson, tells the New York Times that the campaign was derived from customer surveys that indicated the airline's service and employees were what made Cathay Pacific stand out over its competitors.
"It's such an obvious idea, really," says Viola, "but I guess organizations are often a bit afraid to talk about themselves in that way, which is why a campaign of this sort really has not been done on this level before."
Cathay Pacific saw another more subtle benefit to the ad campaign -- helping to "improve corporate morale." While the airline did make a profit in 2009 and avoided layoffs, Cathay "only narrowly avoided a walkout by disgruntled cabin crew members earlier this year" when it had to ask some employees to take unpaid leave of up to four weeks.
While Cathay Pacific's routes are largely in the Asia-Pacific region, it does operate globally -- and the campaign takes this into account. James Barrington, Cathay's director of sales and marketing, tells the Times, "We tried to be culturally neutral [in the campaign], to get a multiethnic blend, but without denying our roots, which lie in Asia."
Here's a behind-the-scenes look at one of the spots in the campaign.
Tell us: do you think Cathay is smart to make its employees, who may come and go, key to its brand image campaign?