Fly the Branded Skies

You Above All

JetBlue has launched its first campaign from Mullen, which won the business from JWT in May after a review. The new campaign’s tagline: “You Above All.” JetBlue CEO Dave Barger explains what it means in this video:

As commercial appearances by CEOs go, Barger’s is pretty good. And the campaign is pretty good too. Because while most consumers perceive most airlines as being more or less the same, they do think JetBlue is different. I’ve written before about how airline advertising often comes down to dubious claims like “our flight attendants smile more than their flight attendants”; JetBlue, on the other hand, has a story to tell, and they leverage their differences to the hilt.

But that’s not the most remarkable aspect of this campaign. You can see it in these out-of-home executions which can be found, among others, on Mullen’s Web site:

Our sanity beats their vanity.

Less inflight jokes. More Comedy Central.

To me, these ads seem to be attacking not legacy airlines but other low-cost carriers (in these cases, Virgin America and Southwest.) That says something about how the structure of the domestic market has changed over the past decade. Low-cost carriers no longer present themselves merely as alternatives to mainline carriers, but also as alternatives to each other.

I’m a copywriter, not an art director, but to me the new Bauhaus-inspired design style doesn’t work completely. It reminds me a little of IBM’s Smarter Planet campaign, but it feels less coherent and refined. The typography is also a bit strange: DIN and Futura is a weird mix. JetBlue used to be the trendy airline; I’m not sure the new visual style really reflects that.

But while I’m not convinced by the print campaign, I love the online videos. You can find the whole selection on JetBlue’s YouTube channel. In their Ground Rules videos, they use hidden cameras to capture people reacting to airline policies being enforced on the ground:

The videos resemble the Ally bank commercials (such as the one in which a little girl is given a bicycle she’s not allowed to ride outside a small box painted on the floor) but they work. They’re fun and they will probably get passed around.

The lede in the Associated Press story about the launch sounds a bit snarky: “JetBlue will start a new advertising campaign with a familiar brand message: Ours is better than theirs.” But advertising is always about that. The difference in this case: people might believe it.