United Takes the Summer Easy

United Airlines is mounting a major midsummer effort—an integrated campaign from Fallon in four key markets—to tout its effort to ease the wait for travelers at airports.

The work is the shop’s first full campaign since the Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based carrier consolidated its $100 million global account at Fallon. The shop has handled United’s domestic business since 1997.

Advertising backs United’s EasyCheck-in self check-in stations and EasyInfo gate screens, which provide more detailed information on boarding and delays. The effort will break in Chicago on July 16 before rolling into three additional core markets by the end of the year.

United plans to back the effort in Chicago with $4 million, according to Jerry Dow, United’s director of worldwide marketing communications.

While maintaining the signature “Rhapsody in Blue” theme and “United” tagline, Fallon’s two new TV spots take a decidedly light tone to reflect how the products help travelers avoid lines, said Fallon creative director Bob Moore.

“The products themselves are fun and the advertising reflects that,” Moore said. “It was very easy to see how they made things better at the airport.”

One spot shows a man trying to sneak his way into a long line to check in through a vague—and possibly non-existent—high school acquaintance. That scene is juxtaposed with travelers breezing through an EasyCheck-in kiosk.

A second spot touts the Easy-Info boards by depicting humorous vignettes of people misinterpreting a garbled flight announcement.

“[The products] gave us a chance to support [United] in a busy travel time,” said Tricia Davidson, Fallon’s global brand leader for the United account. “They’ve got a lot of new products that we’re going to be focusing on.”

Frankel in Chicago has developed regional promotional extensions for United’s “Easy” offerings and is also incorporating the products into the carrier’s event marketing.

United is currently developing several other customer service programs, from consumer advocate centers to radio frequency baggage ID tags. As those programs become available, they will be advertised under the “Easy” umbrella, Dow said.

Fallon is working on a global brand campaign for United set to break this fall. Though Moore and Davidson wouldn’t comment on specifics of that work, “it won’t be unrelated” to the tone and product highlights seen in this summer’s ads.

“Whatever we do, the products are always going to be part of the story,” Moore said.