Has easyJet cracked advertising?

After BA we now have the new easyJet TV work. What a feast of fresh work and a wonderful range of brand positioning between BA, Virgin Atlantic, easyJet and Ryanair.

Just to make my position clear I’m disappointed in the easyJet work; the pitch went on for some time, the need for a clear positioning for the brand is necessary and it is such a rich subject for creative work. The question ‘Where are you going?’ and then the end line of ‘Europe by easyJet’ left me feeling a bit ‘so what’. They still have managed to avoid telling me why I should consider easyJet as an alternative choice for travel. Also my take out of the fast cuts, music and dominant images suggest the airline is for trips to Spain for a manic weekend. Bah humbug.

Coincidentally, or maybe not given we all knew they were breaking the new campaign this week, the four page insert on todays Times (3rd October) for BA was on a different planet in terms of gravitas and content. They have moved the ‘To Fly, To Serve’ to the pay off under impressive content. It helps to strengthen their clear positioning as the grown up, serious player ahead of the game on all dimensions. easyJet comes across as the frothy adolescent trying to mimic Virgin Atlantic’s cool positioning.

Anyone who has worked in the sector will know, and this is not brain surgery by a very long way, people travel for a multiple of reasons; the classic breakdown is Leisure, Business and VFR (visiting friends and relatives). We all know why we travel so there is no need to remind us of our reasons. It’s a bit like running ads that claim analgesics cure headaches, we know that so we need to know why we should choose one brand over another. The easyJet TV work holds a mirror up to the travelling public reminding them why they travel not why they should fly with easyJet.

I actively choose not to fly with easyJet because the experience is less enjoyable than flying with BA given the option on any particular route in Europe. However I do admire the easyJet brand and I so dearly want them to persuade me to check them out again. I’m a rejector and I need another reason to check them out again. My other half is very anti-easyJet due to some bad experiences in the past and she almost has convulsions if I mention the R word.It isn’t snobbery or elitism, like everyone else we would prefer to pay less if we can for a weekend flight somewhere but we do balance out value and cost. easyJet isn’t good value in our books so we do need a reason to try them again; this new work hasn’t pulled it off for us, in fact I suspect it will reinforce the views the good lady currently holds.

In the BBC Watchdog programme where they canvassed the views of 25,000 people who travel by air, one question was ‘Of the airlines you have flown with in the last year which ones would you never fly with again?”. Around 25% said Ryanair, that’s one in four saying ‘never again’. I can’t recall the easyJet number but to be fair it was much lower. However the point is the battle for share is constant so retaining customers is job number one and re-gaining customers is job number two.   

With my current work with another airline (not in the UK) both Ryanair and easyJet are competitors. Interestingly they both are growing and both are increasing share on direct head to head routes but the one I’m working for has increased its share of business travel by a very big margin. The effect of both airlines has been to increase the market size rather than take share of a flat market but they are mopping up low yield business with the high yield business increasing with my client. I’m sure this is a reflection of the value/cost factors and who a person on a business trip would prefer to travel with.

So back to the advertising scene emerging for airlines in the UK; on a personal perspective I would give BA and Virgin Atlantic 9/10 each for different reasons, easyJet 5/10 for reasons explained above and Ryanair 0/10 because they just shout and scream price. As a final comment I totally get commercial success is not purely down to advertising in this sector but strong brand positioning does make a big contribution to downstream issues that do affect commercial outcomes.

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