Friday, 1 July 2011

Advertising? Well, since you asked......

A couple of posts back I taunted and tantalised you with this:

"A whole different animal"
Hands up who knows what I'm on about!
anyone? anyone?

Since we've been talking advertising strategy, I thought I would share one of my favourites.

OK - so in the US over the past .....ummm .... well .... forever really .... airlines have been coming and going and going and coming and ....... merging - yes merging (with apologies to Madeline Kahn).

These furry little wildlife chaps are the creation of Frontier Airlines. A US domestic low cost carrier. As to be expected, the name Frontier has been around for many years and has been owned, merged and independent numerous times over the years.

In 2002, Frontier's management decided they no longer wanted to be a half unknown, mundane, stuck in the middle brand. At the time only 2 out of 5 people in Denver recognised the brand, and were a last resort taking United's overflow with only 11% of the Denver traffic.

So the company decided to make something more the wild animals on their tails. And this is what they came up with: (or as Winston Churchill would say: "Up with which, is what they came):

And it was the start of something very cute.

Just like developing a TV sitcom, characters and story lines were developed. Slowly the whole gang was introduced :

in addition to Jack the Rabbit, there is Larry the Lynx and Grizwald the Bear and they all got up to sweet and funny little 20 second adventures. Somewhat like meeting at the bar in Cheers these guys all hang out on the tarmac at Denver International Airport

The ads proved to be a sensation and were just the thing to establish the brand.

Now remember the alcohol marketing post and the advertisers desire to really connect with community? Well,  Frontier stepped into that space and created a whole storyline.

When launching new routes to Mexico, Flip the cantankerous Dolphin, who constantly flies to the cold places, demands he gets the routes or he'll quit! Frontier came up with fake pickets and fake press releases, but after a while the campaigns and news items became real. And during the Superbowl, Frontier announced Flip got his wish. Note the sunburn in the previous spot? This little documentary describes the whole campaign about sending a fake dolphin to Mexico which mobilised Colorado. They show the public response from 3:55

Within the year Harris Interactive Research established that Frontier had become Denver's favourite airline. And thus the next campaign was born: to find "Denver's Favourite Animal". Again the same interactive style using traditional media combined with websites, blogs, facebook and community events including t-shirts, flyers and those media reports. Over 5 weeks Frontier staged a fake political campaign with all the requisite vote-rigging and mud slinging. Another huge success!

So I encourage you to watch another mini-documentary that explains the campaign, the results and those squishy sounds you've been wondering about. Take a look:


So just how successful was the campaign?? I'll show you after the jump.

Of course there's a bunch of success measures: brand awareness, recall, differentiation etc all streaks ahead of United and Southwest (Stirlings Rice Research 2006). Per flight load factor rose from 69% in 2003 to 82% average capacity in 2008. (Frontier Airlines Holdings Traffic Reports 2009). In 2007, readers of Business Traveller Magazine voted Frontier "Best Low Cost Carrier" and the Freddie Awards from Inside Flyer Magazine awarded Frontier Best Frequent Flyer Program.

And this is one of my favourite graphs. It demonstrates the growing market share Frontier developed.

source: Frontier Airlines Holdings 2008-2009
And now compare that graph with this one on advertising expenditure:

Source: Ad Views System, National Spend, 2008
You can barely see the Frontier blue bars. Yep : Frontier gained this market share with an annual advertising spend of approx. $8 million compared to United's $73 million and Southwest's $216 million!

Remember those social networking tactics - become friends with your favourite brand? Now you can become friends with Grizwald the Bear!

Griz needs to learn how from Baileys Irish Cream how to interact with your "friends".
They did a cute ad spot promoting their online presence

Then Frontier went bankrupt.

(come back for part two tomorrow when I tell you about the "Save Frontier" campaign and surprising latest development)

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