Etihad Lacking In Personality

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Etihad Airways is launching a new global ad campaign on Mar. 3 created by M&C Saatchi, the ad agency that used to have the British Airways advertising account.

The Middle East carrier’s latest ad campaign includes a new tagline/positioning statement for the business: “The World Is Our Home, You Are Our Guest.” The new television commercial, which is the center piece of the campaign, is beautifully shot and has high production values. To communicate the message that Etihad offers high levels of on onboard service, the TVC has images of world-class restaurants and five-star hotels juxtaposed against images taken on board Etihad’s aircraft. The juxtaposition is achieved using a split screen production technique and it works to try and develop that association, in the mind of the consumer, of Etihad being an example of high-class service.

After watching the TVC twice, via Etihad’s webcast, I couldn’t help but think, that this is another one of those ad campaigns that is all about style over substance. Once again, the advertising creatives have used a nifty production technique and passed it off to the client as an idea. A production technique is not a creative idea, it’s just a production technique. I don’t think this campaign has legs, because the idea behind the campaign is not compelling enough.  

It’s also interesting how the commercial never really features Etihad’s cabin crew. I did catch a quick glimpse of one male steward in the ad, but I saw more of his shadow than him, creating the impression he was someone lurking about.

I think if we could actually see more of the faces of the cabin crew in the ad, it would help to create more of a personality for the brand. At the end of the day, you want people to like your brand. So how do you get consumers to like your brand? Well, you can start by smiling and injecting a bit of personality, fun and humor into the brand, all of which are lacking in Etihad’s latest brand effort.

PS. And one more thing, I was bit disappointed to see that Etihad’s CEO, James Hogan, decided not to front the press conference to promote Etihad’s new brand campaign. He left it to Etihad’s chief commercial officer, Peter  Baumgartner. Without meaning any disrespect to Mr Baumgartner, I think the CEO should have attended the press conference, so as to highlight how important advertising and marketing is to a company’s success. I think some clients don’t fully appreciate the power of advertising and how it has the potential to transform their business into a hugely successful enterprise. If they understood that, then they would know that an ad agency can deliver them not just a nifty TVC, but also a strategy that can differentiate their business and give them an edge over the competition. If I were Etihad, I would be asking M&C to come up with a better strategy for the next campaign.

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