Alaska Airlines Celebrates Merger With Virgin America by Showcasing Unexpected, Brilliant Pairings

Mekanism's first work for brand

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In any great story, or with any great meal, opposites tend to attract. Salty and sweet, comedy and romance, chocolate and bacon, itsy-bitsy wiener dogs and massive lions. And now Alaska Airlines and Virgin America.

The merger of the two airlines, which was first announced in April, is now official. In celebration of the union, Mekanism created its first campaign for the brand, "Different Works," highlighting the fact that while the pairing may seem odd, it's really a great fit. Mekanism won the Alaska account in February after Wongdoody had it for over 20 years.

"I think there's a lot of uncertainty about how these two brands can live together," Sangita Woerner, vp of marketing, Alaska Airlines, said. "We thought why don't we get out there … with our own point of view, and our point of view is that yeah, on the outside our brands look different, but on the inside there are so many similarities," from customer service to how both brands feel about innovation.

With the latest work Mekanism and Alaska needed to "convert the skeptics and give them a reason to believe," Matt Stafford, creative director at Mekanism said. With that idea in mind, and an end goal of making flying better for everyone, the "Different Works" campaign came to life. 


The work feels similar to the popular Android "Friends Furever" spot created by Droga5, but with less of a focus on unlikely cuddly animal pairings and more of a focus on two unlikely things coming together to create something incredible, like fried chicken on top of waffles or biking down a snowy mountain. 

"What we really wanted to do was lean in and acknowledge the truth. On the surface these airlines are different but underneath there are a lot of similarities," Mike Zlatoper, evp, managing director, Mekanism, said. "Some of the best stories are about two different things coming together, whether it's a romantic comedy or Romeo and Juliet. Opposites come together with a common goal."

Earlier in the week, Alaska celebrated the union with a few fun initiatives at different airports across the country. The airline handed out donuts topped with bacon and caramel doused in salt, again showing the idea that while the pairings may seem unlikely, they somehow end up working together in the best way.

The campaign also includes some out of home work, digital display, print and a big social push.




Agency: Mekanism

Client: Alaska Airlines

President/CEO: Jason Harris

Executive Creative Director: Tommy Means

EVP, Head of Creative/Design: Tom Lyons

Creative Directors: Matt Stafford & Hart Rusen

Art Directors: Patrick Nelson & Sean Hamilton

EVP, Managing Director: Michael Zlatoper

Director of Brand Management: Anna Boyarsky

Brand Director: Caroline Paik

Brand Manager: Mellie Lutz

Head of Planning, West: Jeremy Daly

Communications Strategy Director: John-James Richardson 

Head of Production: Kati Haberstock

Director of Print Production/Art Buying: Frank Lewis

Producer: Megan Ubovich

Print Producer: James Sablan

Senior Production Artist: Jose Paz

Print Project Manager: Mariah Gill-Erhart

Stock Footage House: STALKR

Stock Producer: George Alvarez

Stock Executive Producer: Carly Lagoda

Music Producer: Janet Billig Rich

Editorial: Nomad

Editor: Jared Coller

Assistant Editors: Collin Ketterer, Dani Weltman

Post Producer: Gabrielle Page

Post Executive Producer: Susye Melega

Sound Engineer: Nomad Editing Co. / Tom Stamatio

Motion Graphics: Nomad VFX / Josh Kirschenbaum

Color: CO3 / Dave Hussey

Print House: XYZ Prepress House

@ktjrichards Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.