Going against the grain
Posted by Mandolin Lextrait on July 10, 2012
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Recently the NYC Advertising Association brought marketers together to hear a tale of how a small airline revolutionized an industry by behaving completely opposite of everyone else.
According to Marty St. George, SVP of Marketing and Commercial Strategy at JetBlue, their success has resulted from a return to basics: a deeply engaging brand vision and a clear understanding of the consumer target. Weaving these two together has created profound customer intimacy, brand equity and growth.
For the past decade Jet Blue has brought both elements to life in one, powerful reference point – bringing humanity back to air travel – from which all decisions are made. Proudly, Marty describes their strategy as one which aims to exceed customer expectations in a category where many carriers advise flyers no expectation is a good expectation. They’ve done so by reversing several negative clichés associated with airline travel and by leveraging consumer advocacy as a primary measure of success throughout the entire organization, baggage carousel to boardroom.
Specifically, they obsess over Net Promoter Scores, using this measure as a way to drive prioritization and resource management among the executive team, accountability among leadership and behavior on the frontlines. Using an internal dashboard, every employee can track NPS scores by flight to understand how their performance impacts the business.
As they move into their second decade of service, JetBlue has evolved its brand vision to renew its commitment to always put people first. “In so many ways this exciting new marketing campaign speaks to the core of who we are as a brand. ‘You Above All’ is authentic. It’s transparent. It’s understandable. Quite simply, it’s very JetBlue” explains Marty.
The campaign is intended to provide “emotional differentiation” for JetBlue, said Alex Leikikh, managing partner and director for account service at Mullen. “Airline advertising today is chock full of smiley, happy business people,” Mr. Leikikh said. “We wanted to do something different.”
And they did, in a series of video advertisements that ask If you wouldn’t take it on the ground, don’t take it in the air.
Others are beginning to take notice, a recent PWC consumer based industry report asks, “What if carriers decided to stop relying on the same old Madison Avenue “strategies” offered up by the branding “experts” and go in a different direction? Of course there is another way—one that starts with keeping the flyer first and relying on what real customers have to say about their preferences.”
As the discussion came to an end, we felt evangelized as marketers and empowered as frequent travelers. JetBlue has proved the power of a value based culture by staying innovative and nimble – why can’t we all?