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Bon voyage: Brands get boarding passes to spread the message in the sky

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Bon voyage: Brands get boarding passes to spread the message in the sky

What better way to deliver your message than when your target group is “strapped and trapped”? And the sky, literally, is the limit! Marketers and advertisers are now boarding aircraft with a new media solution - using aircraft interiors and exteriors to put the brand message across. From food trays, seat covers, luggage space, in-flight magazines to the exterior of aircraft, branding is happening at every corner.

How does the client benefit? With the clear difference between “no-frills” and “high-end” airlines, the TG is clearly demarcated. And the fact that almost every airline is willing to facilitate co-branding in one form or the other is acting as a big catalyst.

Air Deccan’s Chief Revenue Officer John Kuruvilla said that aircraft have turned into an interesting option for marketers. “They can get enhanced impact and strong brand awareness. Clients, to increase brand awareness, have used aircraft exteriors. Others, who want to promote a brand targeting a focus group for more impact, have used the in-flight milieu,” he said.

Air Deccan has already facilitated the use of aircraft exterior for NDTV and Sun Microsystems. “With Tavera, we did data base promotion and for VIP and Scorpio, we had a brand awareness exercise,” Kuruvilla added.

Interestingly, leasing out space for advertisements works as a good strategy for “low-cost” airlines. In fact, taking a leaf out of Air Deccan’s book, Air-India Express, the low- cost airline promoted by flag carrier Air-India, has decided to sell ad space on its aircraft to maximize revenue. The advertisements would be displayed on the inner and outer surfaces of the three Boeing 737-800 planes that are used for services to the Gulf. Air-India's Director (Public Relations), Jitendra Bhargava, said, “The objective was to minimize the expenses. It’s a global concept that we are following in India wherein 20 per cent of the total revenue can flow in from non-passenger streams using innovative options.”

Bhargava, however, stressed that Air-India was looking at this option “only for low-cost carriers and not mainline aircraft”.

On how airborne ad rates are decided, Nures Sayeed, VP-Brand Communications, SpiceJet, said, “Generally how it works is that you evaluate on a cost-per-contact basis. On the basis of how many people get exposed to it, you state a price.”

Sayeed said that as of now SpiceJet had no plans of facilitating branding options. “We are at a very nascent stage and our focus is on establishing SpiceJet right now. May be at a later stage once the brand establishes, we may consider the option,” he said.

Meanwhile, the high-end airlines are also not entirely ruling out the option. While Jet has been running a multi-brand exercise with Contest2win, an Air Sahara official said, “We are open to branding on in-flight magazine Expressions and ‘Bid and Win’ for the domestic flights. For our international operations, we are open to audio/video running the advertisements and selling products on board.”

On the success of the campaign run by Contest2win CEO Alok Kejriwal said, “Fifty world class brands were associated with us and we witnessed a participation of more than 10 lakh travellers in 22 months.” The contests are held in 280 Jet flights, which presently hold a 40 per cent market share.

Of course, there is one thing that airlines are sensitive about, which is the ‘customer irritability’ quotient, and most of them are careful even as they hand out ‘boarding passes’ to brands. “It is essential to use the medium effectively and not mar the aesthetic appearance of the aircraft,” said Bhargava.

Girish Shah, GM-Marketing, Kingfisher Airlies, said that it’s essential that the advertising is not obtrusive or else it could have a negative impact on the airline brand. Shah informed that Kingfisher would like to associate with only “like-minded brands”. Sayeed counters this saying, “For those traveling on no-frills, it’s a question of irritant versus low ticket rates. What would they prefer?”

Interestingly, advertisers consider this as a viable secondary option for some categories like mobile phones, credit cards, etc. Prasoon Joshi, Regional Creative Director, McCann Erickson India, said, “It’s a good idea to reach consumer contact points. However, you cannot replace regular TV spots and print ads with in-flight placements. Of course, alternative media acts as a good secondary option.”

Milind Dhaimade, National Creative Director, Everest Brand Solutions, also said that with certain niche segments in-flight advertisements have proven effective. But, as he pointed out, “It’s as expensive as a regular medium because airlines too charge premium rates.”

It’s bon voyage for brands for now.


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