When one of your clients has planes used as weapons in the 9-11 attacks, it’s traumatic to say the least. We were closer to it than most because of our relationship with American. They immediately began pulling all advertising after Sept. 11th, and planned on remaining dark at least until after the first of the year. But (and this is one case where an agency had the courage to suggest something so bold) we recommended that they rethink the whole positioning of the airline and get back on the air. Not to sell plane tickets, but to restore the confidence of the country in air travel as a mode of transportation. I wrote these three :60 commercials not as an ad guy, but as a person who needed to be around family and friends in order to cope with the sadness. I drew on memories of going to my grandparents’ house in Florence, Alabama every year for Thanksgiving. The inspiration for the “Friends” spot was my annual pilgrammage to Chapel Hill for our “Big Chill” weekend. And “Getaway” was written simply by remembering how great it is to go on vacation with people you care about. The spots were shot by the wonderful Peggy Sirota. A few of the home movie sequences in these spots were filmed by my Grandfather Lew Miller in the 1950s. My mom, aunt, cousins and more extended family members are featured in the clips. Which make these even more poignant, not matter how many times I watch them.
You should give some outcomes/results of the American Airlines 9/11 campaign.
I’ll try to dig some results up and post them. Thanks for the suggestion!
I contacted my client at American and this is what he sent me: "The problem with assessing the effectiveness of airline tactical advertising is that the selling model is so complex – lots of other influencing forces – FFPs, travel agent incentive commissions, price drops, corporate discounts, all that stuff that, for example, CPG manufacturers don’t deal with, or to as great an extent. Plus there was so much noise, helpful and not, in the fall of 2001. The only thing we really tracked consistently was attitude toward the brand, which was not really harmed because of the September 11 attacks, and strengthened a bit through the winter and spring of 2002. We do know anecdotally that people loved the Great American Get Together campaign.Hope that helps! Mike.
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