AirTran Continues Its Comeback

C-K Readies Fall Ads Stressing Comforts of a New Fleet of Planes
CHICAGO–As the first air carrier to receive a new batch of Boeing airplanes that include special comfort features, AirTran Airlines checks in with new ads this fall from Cramer-Krasselt touting wider seats, more leg room, bigger overhead bins and fresher air in the cabin.
The Orlando, Fla.-based carrier is buying 50 Boeing 717s, with the first batch of eight planes due to be operating commercially as early as October.
Teaser TV spots, print, radio and billboard ads from the Chicago agency could appear during late September in Atlanta and Orlando, and eventually in such major markets as Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New York and Washington. The budget for the campaign promoting the new planes is expected to be approximately $2 million.
The airline’s tagline remains “It’s something else,” developed by C-K for the inaugural AirTran campaign in 1997. AirTran was formed when cut-rate carrier ValuJet, infamous for a May 1996 crash in Florida’s Everglades that led to a federal investigation into the company’s maintenance standards, merged with the original AirTran Airways in Orlando and kept the latter’s name.
AirTran is the launch customer for the Boeing 717s, which are powered by huge BMW engines that enable air to flow in and out of the interior of the plane rather than recirculate during an entire flight. That feature, along with other comfort amenities, fit in with C-K’s overall strategic direction for the airline, “A more civilized way to fly,” and also meshes with AirTran’s primary message of value pricing, said Peter Krivkovich, the agency’s president and chief executive officer.
The existing tagline also fits into the promotional effort behind the new planes.
“Now it’s going to have that much more validation,” Krivkovich said.
Having put together two profitable quarters this year, AirTran appears to be on the comeback trail and is even grabbing business travelers away from key Atlanta competitor Delta with business-class upgrades for just $25. Since its reincarnation, the airline has touted its business-class seating (also the subject of a C-K TV campaign), gone ticketless and otherwise promoted itself as comfortable and flier-friendly in addition to its value price positioning.
The regional carrier’s ad spending jumped to about $12 million last year, from about $7 million in 1997, and was nearly $4 million through March of this year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.