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JetBlue Unwraps 'The Flyer's Collection'

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JetBlue Airways is launching a holiday gift guide that shows what happens when consumers don’t fly with the airline.

The low-cost airline held a sampling effort in New York City on Monday, targeting frequent flyers, particularly Wall Street and c-level executives. JetBlue distributed about 35,000 of its gift guides via a network of 2,300 Big Apple town car transportation companies.

The holiday gift guide is, in essence, “a joke,” said John Amato, president of New York-based Show Media, the advertising agency that worked with JetBlue on the sampling program. One of the gifts in the guide is a “knee jockey,” for instance. “It’s like a bra for your knees,” quipped JetBlue advertising manager Kirsten Frazell. "It holds your knees up so they don’t have to be smashed in [by] the seat in front of you." The point here is to illustrate that JetBlue has a lot of legroom.

JetBlue is also running banner ads and has set up a storefront at 48 9th Avenue (by the Apple store in NYC). Located in the Meatpacking District, the store offers a “parody” set up of all items that are sold in the catalogue. Another example is a sweater that doubles as a carry-on suitcase “so you don’t have to pay the extra $25 to [check in additional] bags.”

The guide is meant to be a “sampling of the things you’d need if you flew on the other guy’s airline,” but JetBlue is also trying to snag its share of the holiday air traffic this season, Frazell said. Town car drivers were chosen as the medium for distribution because 80 percent of these vehicles go to and from the airport, she added.

The program runs through December. JetBlue has also posted the guide, called “The Flyer’s Collection,” on its Facebook page.

This type of marketing stunt is not new to JetBlue. In the past, the airline had wrapped New York airport shuttle buses with posters conveying smart travel tips, and town cars have been employed as a means of advertising—and distributing products—to travelers. But this effort is different in that it’s the first “widely organized town car network in the history of advertising,” claimed Amato, of Show Media. (His agency designs ads for companies like Ray-Ban and Levi Strauss & Co. that go on top of taxis and luxury vehicles.)

Amato said JetBlue's campaign represents a shift in how companies—and their business partners—approach marketing these days. The agency exec said he tried forming such a town car network three years ago, but the folks he approached weren’t interested at the time. Amato concluded: “Now, businesses in general are looking for new ways to make money, and this is the sort of project that [delivers] a huge net gain” to all parties involved.