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Posts Tagged ‘American Airlines’

Will US Air/American Merger Help Solve the Industry’s PR Problems?

It’s done: American Airlines and US Airways have officially announced plans to merge, thereby creating the world’s largest carrier fit to compete with Delta and United (which went through mergers of their own in recent years). The newly formed super-airline will operate under the American name, and it will keep that brand’s awesome new logo.

Of course the merger is in the financial interests of all involved parties. But will it help them overcome the fact that the public hates them? We don’t think so. The Justice Department rejected the proposed US Air/United merger in 2001 because “it would reduce choice and possibly lead to higher fares”. Now try and guess what this merger will bring:

  • Service cuts (reduced choice)!
  • Fare hikes (higher fees)!
  • More add-on fees for checking bags, re-booking reservations, choosing seats, etc…

Sounds great, right? Of course, American will now have the advertising and PR budget of the biggest name in town. How should they spend it?

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4 Super Bowl ‘Rebranding’ Reviews: What Worked? What Didn’t?

Since today is officially Review the Super Bowl day, we thought we’d riff on a theme we saw in several of last night’s big-name ads: rebranding. The companies in question aren’t exactly hurting for money (except for one very notable exception), but they wanted to use the Super Bowl as a jumping-off point to refine and re-target their brands. So what worked? What didn’t? Let’s do some before-and-after comparisons, shall we?

Mercedes-Benz

Before: A luxury car brand synonymous with “incredibly rich (and usually evil) people”

After: A premium brand that’s still affordable for those of us a little lower on the social ladder

Did it work? Nice commercial but no. An “economy” model Mercedes is like a subprime mortgage: you can tell us it’s less expensive and convince us that we’ll be able to pay it off in twenty years of installments, but the fact is we still can’t afford it.

But hey, at least we didn’t have to watch Kate Upton try to act.

Click through for the rest:

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American Airlines Takes a Stab at Rebranding

In case you hadn’t heard, American Airlines faces a number of significant PR challenges. We would review the bankruptcy, the mass layoffs, the employee strikes and the customer service nightmares, but you’ve heard all that before–we’ll just say there are several reasons that American repeatedly finds itself among America’s “most hated” brands. And while the company reported a very small profit in the fourth quarter of 2012 thanks to the tax benefits of declaring bankruptcy, a rehabilitation is clearly in order.

So what can American do to redeem itself in the eyes of its public? How about a new logo?

Check out the official corporate video unveiling the “much-anticipated” redesign (and try not to gag on all the drama).

There are a few more bells and whistles involved, of course.

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What Are America’s 10 ‘Most Hated’ Brands? And Why?

Lord VoldemortToday we came across a list of “America’s 10 Most Hated Companies” courtesy of Ragan’s PR Daily and 24/7 Wall Street, which compiled the worst of the worst based on “stock performance, employee and customer satisfaction, and management decisions.”

We were intrigued, so we figured we’d peruse the list and see what we could make of it. What are these brands, and what did they do to offend the American public (and their investors) so badly?

Here they are, along with our past and present theories on why they suck:

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American Airlines Flight Attendants to Take Off

Airlines are not particularly popular with the American public right now–and they haven’t been for a while. We now associate what was once a glamorous industry offering the promise of culture, class and access to compelling and exotic lands with long lines, intrusive security searches, hidden fees, incompetence and poor customer service (not to mention schedules that run late before 9am).

In order to bolster their bottom lines and increase profits, airlines have implemented fees for everything from extra carry-on bags to what once were basic amenities such as food and headphones. Today, airplanes resemble busses in the sky, where the quarters are cramped, worn and offer few creature comforts.

The one aspect of air travel that separates it from other forms of transportation, however, is the flight attendants. It’s nice to know that someone on board gets paid to be nice to you the entire trip, quick with a pillow or blanket should you need one. Not many businesses beyond upscale restaurants and beauty salons offer such services to average people.

Many frequent air travelers know the names and faces of the flight attendants who work scheduled domestic flights. Customers like to be recognized; it makes feel human and worthy. But the faces of American Airlines flight attendants are about to change.

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JetBlue Will Help Angry Voters Leave the Country

In one of October’s catchiest PR stunts, JetBlue encourages voters frustrated with next month’s election results to follow their instincts and flee the country.

The discount airline has emerged as a survivor in the industry despite some PR problems like the Steven Slater emergency chute drama, the pilot “panic attack” incident, and the usual union debates.

The company’s new “Election Protection” campaign, created by the Mullen agency, makes light of an annoying habit that seems to arise right before every presidential election: celebrities and other passionate voters publicly announcing their plans to leave the country if their preferred candidate loses.

Curious customers can enter to win a free post-election trip out of the continental US by choosing their party alignment (what, no Rosanne?) and their ideal vacation destination in JetBlue’s poll.  Lest puzzled readers think JetBlue is undermining democracy with this stunt, all campaign spots repeatedly emphasize the importance of voting—a message sadly lost on the 40-50% of voting-age Americans who consistently fail to participate in nationwide elections.

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What Did American Airlines Do This Time?

In the wake of its labor dispute and ticketing mini-scandal, you may have wondered how the American Airlines PR crisis could get any worse.

This week brought an outrage that managed to combine technical malfeasance with poor customer service: the seats on AA planes have begun to come loose in-flight. Seriously. Wednesday marked the third time this has happened in the past week.

Oh, and these aren’t just passenger seats: last night a flight was delayed due to “missing springs” in the pilot’s seat, and all 48 of the company’s are now going out of service for a second time after technicians discovered that the real cause of this mishap is something called “seat lock plunger mechanisms”. Spokespeople were previously forced to clarify that “Seat-gate” was not, in fact, the result of coordinated sabotage by angry pilots.

This isn’t even funny anymore, guys.

The AA Fail story has made its way around the PR news world over the past few weeks, of course, and in that time we’ve seen no one outside the organization defending the management of what looks to be a swiftly sinking ship. We don’t have much in the way of useful advice for the company, but we do have one piece of slightly good news: Despite losing a bid to block a unionization vote by “10,000 passenger service agents”, the airline workers’ existing union now claims to have reduced the number of coming layoffs by “more than 80%”, from 8,650 to under 2,000.

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American Airlines Had a Terrible PR Week

Given the fact that America’s faith in its airline companies is roughly equivalent to its faith in Congress, we feel like the big names should be doing everything in their power to remind customers how great they are.

This week, however, the opposite happened.

American Airlines suffered from flight cancellations, absentee pilots, planned layoffs for 11-14,000 workers, and an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal urging all readers to avoid the airline altogether. Wow, that last one was quite harsh. But we were even more disturbed by this story:

In short, a man (who happened to be a frequent business traveler and regular AA customer) bought tickets to Disney World for himself, his wife and his daughter. Four months after buying these tickets, his plans got complicated by the fact that American changed the flight plans for the return trip. Unfortunately, this meant placing all the paid passengers in arbitrary seating arrangements. As American set things up, the man’s daughter would be sitting on the other side of the plane.

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Alec Baldwin, a.k.a. Capt. Rogers, Makes An ‘SNL’ Appearance

Has Words With Friends-gate finally reached its finale?

Alec Baldwin appeared on SNL this weekend dressed as American Airlines’ “Capt. Steve Rogers” to apologize to the star, talk up how wonderful his is, and explain why any normal person playing Words With Friends would leave their seat and slam the lavatory door as the plane is about to take off.

One PR blogger thinks the skit was a good move. Your thoughts?

Baldwin Kind of Apologizes, Zynga Wins

Alec Baldwin has used his column on The Huffington Post to further explain the little incident that became the big international story — his expulsion from an American Airlines flight the other day.

After apologizing to fellow travelers who may have been “inconvenienced” by the brouhaha, he addresses the airline directly.

“I suppose a part of my frustration lay with the fact that I had flown American for over 20 years and was brand loyal, in the extreme,” Baldwin writes. He then continues to talk about the tendency for passengers these days to use their electronic devices until the last minute and the ways in which air travel has become “inelegant.”

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