WHINE AND CHEEZ
by Sean Mendis
"KRIS MY ASS"
- Overkill in airline branding
14 June 2003
CAUTION : Contains language some readers may find objectionable.
Branding is an essential component of the marketing mix. A brand name identifies a product and sets it apart from the competition in the market. Succesful brands become part of pop culture and have even been known to work their way into daily vocabulary.
Unfortunately, airlines tend to suck at branding on the whole. Granted, there are some notable exceptions but for the most part airlines who have attempted cutesy branding have come up with some of the most annoying brands out there.
Take Singapore Airlines for example. For some unfathomable reason they have decided that everything they touch must be transformed into a brand that revolves around the word "Kris". Now, "Kris" is a fine name to be sure. My college roommate's girlfriend was named "Kris" and she was a real party animal. However, she evokes absolutely no image of airplanes or of Singapore. In fact, she kinda reminds me of New Jersey.
Another area where Singapore Airlines annoys the crap out of me is when they name their aircraft models. Other airlines name actual aircraft after famous people or rivers or mountains. Not Singapore Airlines. They name their aircraft models after random words in the dictionary. So we have the 747 Megatops, the 747 Cargo MegaArks, the 777 Jubilee and the A340 Celestar. How the fuck do they come up with these random names? Is there actually a department in the basement of their HQ building where some Singapore Boy who never gets laid toils for months in a cubicle to come up with this shit?
But enough wasting space about a tiny island in SE Asia. Lets look at the world's largest airline instead. American Airlines or "AA" for short. As if it wasn't bad enough that they had to share their IATA designator code with an alcohol rehab group, but noooo... Some bright spark in marketing decided that everything to do with the airline now had to be identified with that. So now we have to suffer through a frequent flyer program called "AAdvantage", a peoplemover system called "trAAin" in Dallas and humorless dumbasses making wisecracks about former CEOs named Cr'AA'ndall and C'AA'rty.
Furthermore, AA decided to go one step further than Singapore Airlines when it came to naming aircraft types. They went with the "Luxury Liner" branding for their widebodies and "Luxury Jet" for their narrowbodies. This is excellent for the lucky sod that gets to fly upon the 777 flAAgship of their fleet, but what about the poor guy stuck on the "Super 80 Luxury Jet". Luxury Jet my ass. And I'm still trying to figure out whats so "Super" about their MD80s in the first place. Or do they mean "Super" the way that politically correct folks like to sometimes call retards as "Special"? And lets not even go there when it comes to the Fokker 100. There is a reason those planes are fondly called "Dutch Ovens" by those who like them and "Dirty Little Motor Fokkers" by those who don't.
Next on my shit list is Korean Air. Not satisfied with painting their planes the most hideous shade of light blue available and then crashing them with monotonous regularity, they went and called their premium cabin "Morning Calm Class". That truly takes the cake for stupid names. What on God's light blue earth is "Morning Calm" anyway? It sounds like something I associate with taking a dump right after waking up.
And then we have Air Canada. Late bloomer in the race, but throwing new names up at a rate of knots. First they rebranded their commuter subsidiary as "Jazz". Then came their low cost no frills subsidiary "Tango". Then their high cost corporate charter subsidiary called "Jetz". Then their low cost non union subsidiary called "Zip". Good grief. Are we through with the dumb names yet or are there other musical genres left to discover? I'd settle for either "Classical" to go back to the way they were or "New Age" to give 'em a brand new start. Obviously status quo ain't working.
Low Cost Carriers are some of the worst offenders in this respect. The patriarch of this group, Southwest Airlines, set the tone for this when they tried to build the airline brand around the concept of love, but still painted the planes shit brown. Drawing from their base at Dallas' Love Field, their stock symbol became "LUV", their automated ticketing machines were called "quickie machines" and their flight attendants wore hot pants inflight. All that was wonderful when Glenda was the belle of Tyler, TX in 1972 but 30 years later she's still wearing shorts as she schleps your diet coke down the aisle.
Europe too has not escaped from this epidemic of stupidity. The British carrier BMI recently launched their discount brand called "BMI Baby" (pronounced "Be My Baby"). I bet someone got a big bonus for creating that stupid pun, but perhaps his money could better be earned by answering this question. WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH AN AIRLINE?
As for other carriers with names like EasyJet, Buzz, Go, jetBlue, Zoom, jetsGo and GoodJet I simply shake my head in disbelief. It seems to be fashionable nowadays to craft an LCC and name it by combining a random verb ("Go", "Fly", "Zoom") with a random adjective ("Easy", "Good", "Blue") and simply using the result as either a prefix or suffix to the word "Jet" and throwing in some garish flourescent corporate colorscheme for effect. Of course, this leads to the situation where no one can tell them apart from each other, not least because they all give you nothing and charge you for the rest.
So next time I checkin at a counter reserved for "KrisFlyer" elite members, receive an invitation to the "SilverKris" lounge, watch a movie on the "KrisWorld" system, make a phonecall on "KrisPhone", buy some duty-free from "KrisShop" and take a shit in the "KrisCrap" lavatory, I will wait till the end of the flight before passing the message to the mandarins in marketing. Tone down the stupid marketing you dipshits or you can "KRIS MY ASS!"
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