The Calgary Stampede is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and to mark the occasion Calgary International Airport is all gussied up in its cowboy best, including hay bales, fences, painted windows and an almost life-size, 880-pound, all chocolate bull made by Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut.
The airport hopes to shellac the bull so it can be used again next year. So no tasting allowed.
For my At the Airport column on USAToday.com this month, Airport wars escalate with attack ads aimed at rivals, I wrote about a new YouTube video about San Francisco International Airport, that features cameo appearances by SF Mayor Gavin Newsom and Marion & Vivian Brown, the kooky 83-year-old identical twins who have become beloved San Francisco icons. Designed to promote SFO as the connecting hub of choice for travelers coming to the United States from New Zealand or Australia, the short video compares SFO’s airy, international terminal to an unnamed airport simply referred to as “the bad airport.”
An SFO spokesperson insists there is no specific “bad airport,” but given the target market I’d guess, oh… that LAX is the airport campaign designers had in mind.
Other airports have no problem calling out the competitor they’re trashing by name. Canada’s Edmonton International Airport recently rolled out a “Stop the Calgary Habit” campaign, urging residents of central and northern Alberta to stop connecting through or driving to Calgary International Airport. The campaign has tag line: “When you go south, so does your air service,”; videos showing repentant passengers; and a tool kit that includes an “Emergency Hypno Cure” to help break the habit.
Of course, there was the challenge Air New Zealand threw down to Southwest Airlines. Air New Zealand produced a series of cheeky commercials and an in-flight safety video that showed airline employees dressed in nothing but cleverly applied body paint. Then ANZ challenged Southwest Airlines to do the same:
Southwest’s answer? “We’d rather rap”:
Now we have two airlines trading smackdown videos. Air Tran Airways and Southwest. See how Southwest started it.
Air Tran’s response?
“We thought about it and thought about it and decided to not respond at all. After all, focusing on running the best low-cost carrier in America is enough to keep us busy. BUT…if we were to respond, it might look something like this:”
In a video about San Francisco International Airport, Mayor Gavin Newsom has a cameo. So do Marion and Vivian Brown, the kooky 83 year-old identical twins who have become beloved San Francisco icons. Designed to promote SFO as the connecting hub of choice for travelers coming to the United States from New Zealand or Australia, the video compares SFO’s airy, light-filled, international terminal to an unnamed airport simply referred to as “the bad airport.”
In this video, the bad airport does look pretty bad. But, marketing experts tell me, that’s what airports have to do these days to stand out.
Another example is the new campaign from Canada’s Edmonton International Airport (YEG), which serves about six million passengers a year. On March 1st the airport rolled out a “Stop the Calgary Habit” campaign, urging residents of central and northern Alberta to stop connecting through or driving to Calgary International Airport (YYC), which serves about ten million passengers a year. Using the tag line “When you go south, so does your air service,” (Ouch!), the campaign includes short (:15) videos portraying repentant passengers.
For years Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport’s (MKE) was marketing itself to northern Illinois as “Chicago’s Third Airport” and back in 2005 mailed out a “Sick of O’Hare?” media kit that included (now highly collectible) air sick bags that said “Feel Better, Fly MKE” and a package of breath mints. A few years later, when the Chicago Cubs were playing the Chicago White Sox at Wrigley Field, MKE hired a skywriter to write the address of the MKE website in the airspace over the game.
Airport spokesperson Patricia Rowe says they don’t do that ‘in your face’ stuff anymore. “Now we spend more time focusing on what’s great about our airport instead of attacking O’Hare.”