Airline’s ad strategy does hit the target

To understand the Turkish Airlines sponsorships and their associated adverts you need to look deeper into the geographical, political and economic context (Mark Ritson, MW 17 June).

The oil and natural gas business is booming in cities like Tashkent, Baku, Tiblisi, Almaty and Teheran. Western Europeans doing business in these cities don’t have a lot of choice when they fly in and out of these places.

I don’t think British Airways flies to any of these cities. BMI and Lufthansa offer a very limited service to just some of these destinations. You could, of course, fly with an airline local to the destination (such as Uzbekistan Airways or Iran Air) or choose go via Istambul with Turkish Airlines.

The use of (albeit) bemused celebrities/sports stars in the adverts actually lends a certain hokey and (if I remember correctly) a slightly flirtatious charm to the Turkish Airlines brand. Most of the people influenced by these ads are likely to be businessmen stuck in some boring hotel in a god-forsaken former soviet republic; who will, at some point, be sent an email by their PA asking if they want to fly home with Turkish Airlines, Air Astana or Turkmenistan Airlines (via Birmingham International Airport).

Don’t be too surprised that FC Barcelona, Kevin Coster and even the charmless Wayne Rooney (with the help of attractive and very attentive flight attendants) win these hugely profitable customers for Turkish Airlines from such poorly differentiated competition.

It is also worth remembering that these sponsorships started at around the same time as the tragic crash of Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 at Schipol in February 2009, in which nine people died. The fact we are reading about bemused faces and expensive, random-looking sponsorships rather than the safety record of Turkish Airlines should be counted a big success for its marketing.

Like most sponsorships I am sure we could all think of ways to achieve better results at a lower cost – but my guess is that Turkish Airlines isn’t doing too badly from these associations and that even if it has paid over the odds, it is actually following quite a low risk strategy.

Paul Youlten, via MarketingWeek.co.uk

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