Friday, July 18, 2008

Shame and Denial in the Skies

You know that the problems in an industry have gotten systemic when multiple companies are trying to convince you that what they do, isn't what they do. British Airways is the latest to drag out the "this is not" approach". What they offer is "A new and different flying experience to Paris".

Earlier this year JetBlue began to distance itself from flying by claiming that they "jet". The work is really creative and clever and the interactive features on the Happy Jetting website are tip top but the strategy is a stinky shit and it will never, ever, ever, ever fly.

In general, what I call presentations of "theatricized reality", once a hallmark of the advertising industry are increasing difficult to pull off. The current milieu, defined by skepticism, the "voice of the consumer" and the gritty realities of video culture produce too stark a contrast for this these kinds of claims to be credible. Add to that a gap between the "brand promise" and "brand delivery" that's too wide for JetBlue to deliver against. The experience isn't distinctive enough and PR over the last year has been too negative.

The tone and voice of the JetBlue work has some sproblems as well. I'm just not sure if this is a face you can put on an airline.

If you're going to do work that panders to youth culture it has to be timely. The "Rushmore Hipsterism" of the video work is past its expiration date.

Denial in the air
Every brand aspires to be that shining example that will defy the bounds of the category to such a degree that people take notice and evangelize the product and experience beyond it's functional reality, that has to be created and demonstrated. You just can't put the words in consumers mouths.

Here's the best example I can give you. Go out today and take a look at the lines at Apple stores. You don't even need to ask those people if the iPhone is just an iPhone. Apple would NEVER take the "this is not aproach" and they are one of the few brands that could rightfully make that claim. But they know better.

The folks at Helio don't know any better, and they too produce work that panders to youth culture. See my post: Helio. Not your mobile Oldsmobile?

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