Alaska Airlines has taken its “The Spirit of Alaska” communications campaign to television, using farcical humor to contrast its meaningful customer service with the all-too-typical exasperating experience for passengers on other carriers.
Created by longtime agency partner WONGDOODY, spots vividly show the troubles many encounter in airports and in the skies, including tight seating, unaccommodating customer service, frequent gate changes and a “song and dance” from airline personnel. In the ads, travelers on mythical SkyHigh Airlines see none of the go-the-extra mile, can-do spirit Alaska Airlines customers receive.
“Our customers tell us that the main reason they fly Alaska Airlines is because of the employees and the consistently outstanding service,” said Tom Romary, Alaska`s vice president of marketing. “The timing is right for us to get back on the air, because our story in this industry environment is more compelling than ever.”
Two of the four TV spots will begin airing in Alaska`s markets on Sept. 22, 2003, while the other two will be released early in 2004. Tom Skerritt, best known for his role as “Viper” in the movie “Top Gun,” has been an Alaska frequent flier for many years. A longtime Northwest resident, he provides the voiceover for all of the campaign productions.
In “Polite-a-Prompter”, a SkyHigh Airlines ticket agent experiences difficulty with his teleprompter glasses as he feigns customer services when greeting customers. `Vouchers” shows SkyHigh flight attendants handing out rain checks for blankets, water and toilet paper.
In “Banjo”, a SkyHigh employee gives a customer a song and dance rather than customer service. “Bench Seating” has SkyHigh passengers packed together with shared seatbelts.
Every spot features a real Alaska employee at the close, each demonstrating a different facet of Alaska`s famous customer service.
A complementary radio campaign has also been developed which points out SkyHigh`s blissfully ignorant service through use of its own advertising. “Virtual First Class” offers SkyHigh passengers virtual reality goggles to enjoy during their abysmal flights. “Friend-maker Flights” turns multiple stopovers into a social opportunity. “Challenge Seating” creates a seating grudge match. “Airport Workout” has passengers running between gates due to a system-wide software glitch, turning incompetence into a total body workout.
“With comedy rooted in the travails of the beleaguered traveler, the commercials practically write themselves,” said Tracy Wong, WONGDOODY chairman and creative director. “No matter how absurd the execution, we`re talking about reality, about the basic truths of air travel. Right now, there`s plenty of material out there.”
A SkyHigh Airlines Web site, creatively extending the broadcast concepts, is at www.skyhighairlines.com. The tongue-in-cheek Web site contains more of the same campaign elements, using humor to draw the parallels.
Alaska Airlines` last major branding campaign—which introduced SkyHigh Airlines—won Gold Lions in 1984 and 1987 at the International Advertising Film Festival at Cannes.
Alaska Airlines is the nation`s ninth largest carrier and was named 2003 Technology Leader of the Year by Air Transport World magazine. Alaska and its regional partner, Horizon Air, together serve 85 cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico. For reservations go to www.alaskaair.com. For more news and information, visit the Alaska Airlines Newsroom on the Internet at http://newsroom.alaskaair.com.
WONGDOODY`s clients include Alaska Airlines, Clif Bar, T-Mobile and Alpine Electronics. Between its offices in Seattle, Los Angeles and Dallas, WONGDOODY has 60 employees and billings in excess of $75 million.