JetBlue’s Elizabeth Windram Wins Adweek’s 2016 Grand Brand Genius Award

Advertising director is making airline ads fun again

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In 2016, JetBlue launched a number of clever campaigns for a category many people don't necessary love, airlines. The brand made passengers happy with stunts for free or discounted travel, but it also reached out to families in need following a mass shooting, making a name for itself as an airline that cares not only about its customers, but about people across the country.

For the work she has done as JetBlue's director of brand and advertising, Elizabeth Windram, one of Adweek's Brand Genius winners this year, walked away Tuesday night with the 2016 Grand Brand Genius award at the annual Brand Genius Gala at New York's Rainbow Room.

"This is truly a team honor for us," Windram said. "On JetBlue we get to live in this amazing culture that is innovative and creative, and it's all in the service of our customers and crew members and our incredible mission to inspire humanity. It's such a privilege to be part of this brand." 

Some of the airline's standout work included "FlyBabies," a stunt from agency MullenLowe that launched ahead of Mother's Day, which featured a whole bunch of babies on the verge of tears on a JetBlue flight. While the constant screaming clearly annoyed the passengers (a traveler's worst nightmare), JetBlue turned a negative into a positive by offering each passenger onboard a 25 percent discount on a future flight for each baby who cried. If four babies cried by the end of the flight, the passengers' next trips were free.

In another stunt, also from MullenLowe, JetBlue brought 150 passengers together in its "Reach Across the Aisle" effort for the opportunity to score free round-trip tickets to one of 20 destinations. The catch? All 150 passengers had to agree on one location. If they couldn't agree, no one got tickets. 

JetBlue has also stepped up for families in their time of need. After the tragic events at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., the airline offered free travel to the city for the victims' immediate family members and domestic partners.

Other Brand Genius winners this year included Intel CMO Steve Fund, TD Ameritrade CMO Denise Karkos, Clinique global brand president Jane Lauder, Barbie svp and global brand manager Lisa McKnight and Airbnb CMO Jonathan Mildenhall.

Arnold Schwarzenegger received Adweek's 2016 Brand Visionary award for his accomplishments in bodybuilding, Hollywood, advertising, reality TV and politics. Pencils of Promise, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building schools and providing education to children across the world, received the 2016 Brand Save award.

@ktjrichards Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.