The travel industry – making America great again!

It feels like we’ve been experiencing some pretty bleak times at the moment – political and social division which has, for many, led to distrust and uncertainty. Doesn’t sound like the makings for a travel advert, does it?

Well JetBlue have done a sterling job in using current events to create an inspiring marketing campaign that promotes their brand and hope at the same time. They have captured public sentiment and turned it on its head to create something beautiful, unique and positive in the midst of social turmoil. And they’ve created something so well timed that it restores your faith in humanity – our ability to overcome division, find common ground and act selflessly for the greater good.

Most importantly they’ve produced a simple yet well crafted and uplifting campaign – one that puts a smile on your face whatever your political allegiance, beliefs or fears about the world today.

Like all good marketers, JetBlue spotted a perfectly timed opportunity. They saw what was happening in the American political landscape and created a social experiment which grabs public sentiment while promoting their brands.

JetBlue asked a plane full of passengers to decide where out of all of JetBlue’s destinations they’d like to visit the most. Sounds simple right? Well that’s until they asked them to decide unanimously – every single person on the plane had to agree on one destination from the hundreds of domestic and international flights JetBlue offers. In return for agreeing, the passengers would be given one, free round-trip ticket to that destination. This meant the people voting not only had to agree, but really believe in their choice.

Passengers were given either red or blue voting paddles to show their support for the various decisions they were asked to make. The use of such colours obviously tapped into the recent campaigning by America’s main political parties – it was a purposeful act that highlighted division not only on a plane but amongst America’s public today.

The host went around the plane asking people about their choices – why some wanted to visit domestic destinations and why others suggested international flights. Passengers were literally asked to reach across the aisle to their fellow passengers and talk, explain their choices and come to agreements.

They used the moral high-ground to show the power of overcoming division by discussing views with a person with differing beliefs. They illustrated how passengers could reasonably discuss their opinions, understand each other and change minds.

Yes there were rallying calls, campaigning and chanting but it was all good natured. There were smiles on faces and people spoke, explained and came together.

And alongside the positive brand reinforcement, JetBlue seamlessly promoted all the destinations they fly to – subtly integrating them into the debate while highlighting the range of flights on offer. They associated their brand with a positive, social movement in the midst of national unrest.

In the end it came down to just two destinations and they made their decision. We’re not going to tell you what they decided – we want you to watch the video.

What we can tell you is that it made us smile and made us feel hopeful. For marketers it shows the power of using current affairs to create relevant and perfectly timed campaigns that tap into the public consciousness.   

And if over 400 passengers on a plane can talk, bridge divides and move together, then maybe marketing has a bigger impact than we think.

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