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Indian Airlines plays the perfect host for better brand recall

20-September-2004
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Indian Airlines plays the perfect host for better brand recall

For Indian Airlines the battle in the skies is hotting up. Jet Airways and Air Sahara have been breathing down its tail for the past few years. And now, fresh competition is brewing in the form of no-frills airlines like the newly-launched Air Deccan and the soon-to-be-launched Vijay Mallya-promoted Kingfisher Air. Deciding it was time that its “comfortable brand” needed a boost, IA decided to “strike an emotional bonding” with flyers through its ongoing television ad campaign.

Manjira Khurana, Coordinator, Marketing & Sales, IA, said, “Through our surveys, we found that in the perception of individual flyers, IA scored very heavily in product attributes. However, our brand recall and perception as a whole did not match up. We therefore wanted an ad that would compel IA as well as non-IA flyers to change their opinion about the airlines. We wanted to achieve an emotional connect with passengers and top of mind recall.”

This is exactly what IA’s agency Bates India did. Said Khurana, “This is a rare instance where the agency not only met the brief, but far exceeded it.” By using a child, the two TVCs communicated the clearly and endearingly. The security the little girl feels and the confidence with which she is travelling communicates the warmth and care provided by the airlines, Khurana elaborated.

The beauty of the first TVC lies in the fact that there is hardly any dialogue in the entire commercial. The entire message is conveyed through the facial expressions of a small girl and the background music. The girl, who is presumably travelling alone, not only teaches her middle-aged co-passenger to use the seat belt but also how to adjust the seating position and use the food tray. All along she expresses surprise at the ignorance of the man sitting beside her.

The twist comes at the end, when the girl is asleep on her co-passenger’s shoulder, who had all this while pretended to be a first-time traveller. It actually turns out that he is the captain of the flight! When the airhostess comes up to inform him about the flight, he asks for a blanket for the little girl.

The ad ends with a voiceover which says: “You are amongst your own with Indian Airlines.” On the screen you see the IA logo and the punchline ‘Let your heart fly’, conveying clearly that the hospitality offered by IA is hard to resist.

The second TVC reinforces the message of living up to the job in an equally endearing manner. A small boy, who was travelling unaccompanied, is seen enjoying the attention of the airhostesses. At the end of the flight, they give him a ride on a luggage trolley while looking for his guardian to hand him over to. The female pilot comes over to him and even puts her pilot’s cap on his head.

Said Radharani Mitra, executive creative director, Bates India, “As IA is an established brand name, all it needed was good packaging. The ad emotionally connected with the viewers and gave them a sense of security, warmth and care all together.”

The commercial was directed by Abhinav Deo of Ramesh Deo Productions.

Even as domestic airlines are slugging it out with price wars and apex fares, IA has cleverly used the ‘comfort factor’ to steal a march over its rivals and, to use Khurana’s words, “send out the message that plastic efficiency is not everything”.

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