Air travel has become synonymous with unhappiness and frustration. But human passengers may not have it so bad after all. JetBlue and creative agency Mullen are introducing a new ad campaign that positions pigeons as the ultimate frequent flyers that don’t receive the respect they deserve.
"JetBlue has always been a contrarian brand that is committed to building the type of airline you would have built for yourself," says Lisa Borromeo, Director of Brand Management and Advertising, JetBlue. "With JetBlue’s 'Air on the Side of Humanity' campaign, we showcase the challenges of modern air travel by giving a voice to the most overlooked, unappreciated frequent fliers of all – pigeons."
The campaign follows several different pigeons with unique narratives across different media. Each story draws a playful comparison of how people are treated by other airlines today. Cramped spaces, limited snacks, flying on someone else’s schedule and the feeling of being ignored are all explored through the eyes of a pigeon.
"Today’s conventional airline branding blends together. JetBlue had the opportunity to make a [strong] statement against the competition – showing the brand’s alignment with humanity and reminding consumers there is a better way to fly," says Borromeo.
One of the new campaign highlights is the Shoo’s Bird’s Eye View web series developed in collaboration with Funny Or Die. In this series, JetBlue celebrates the things that “make us human, demonstrating our continued commitment to inspiring humanity and proving once again that our mission sets us apart from all other airlines.”
TV and online spots are running during entertainment, news and sports programming. The website Buzzfeed is featuring custom posts with messages tailored to key JetBlue markets. An interactive mobile media game allows people to pretend to be a pigeon. And music streaming website Spotify is introducing custom JetBlue-branded and curated playlists.
"The end result is a campaign that flies in the face of conventional airline branding,” says Borromeo.
The campaign is an evolution of JetBlue's ‘Air on the Side of Humanity’ concept that debuted last fall in Boston. After positive customer response, an increase in overall brand awareness and recognition of brand values, the campaign is expanding this spring to New York and Florida. "Together with Boston, these three markets are crucial to JetBlue’s continued growth strategy and brand awareness initiatives," says Borromeo.
Plus, humor helps JetBlue break through the clutter. "The [air carrier] category outspends JetBlue dramatically," she says. "This puts all the more importance on leveraging powerful creative to breakthrough and amplify the JetBlue message."
JetBlue's advertising was $57 million in each of 2012 and 2011, and $55 million in 2010, according to company financial filings.