It’s been five months since United Airlines and Continental Airlines merged, and their recently ratifed union is banking on an advertising campaign to woo back travelers, even as airlines have raised fares four times this year due to higher fuel costs.
The United name and the Continental globe are combined in the new branding, which is being promoted in a campaign that's rolling out in stages.
Phase one includes billboards and the inflight Hemisphere magazine this month, followed by media buys in key markets such as Newark, New Jersey's international airport hub next to New York City.
The new logo, above, will be featured in its standalone “Work Hard. Fly Right” ads, along with signage coming next month to the five Major League Baseball stadia homes of teams it sponsors, and then signage in major airports in May. United’s home base is Chicago, and it remains the world’s largest airline by traffic.
The United website adopted the new logo on March 1st, retiring United's classic “tulip” logo created by design legend Saul Bass, and used since the early 1970s. S far, the plan is to keep George Gershwin’s 1924 Rhapsody in Blue as the theme song.
According to United Continental Holdings Inc.’s chief of brand marketing, Kevin McKenna, the two airline’s websites won’t be combined until 2012, and rebranding the fleet livery will take until 2013.
Workers will get new uniforms mid-2012, but until then, cargo and catering personnel will receive new caps, and airport agents and flight attendants will sport lapel pins with a new logo.
Still in process – a new tagline reflecting the new company’s larger route network and low-fare guarantees. Until then, a paint job will hold sway as the new colors and lettering are rolled out to its fleet of 710 mainline and 552 regional aircraft. 309 have been repainted so far, according to the Denver Post.
In the meantime, a public mourning over the loss of the iconic tulip logo is taking place online, with a Save the United Airlines Tulip Facebook page (tagline: "We have PTSD: Post-Tulip Stress Disorder) and petition.
Here's how one fan envisions a unified logo that would include the United tulip: