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United Airlines’ New Brand Campaign Reinterprets “Fly the Friendly Skies”
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United Airlines’ New Brand Campaign Reinterprets “Fly the Friendly Skies”

by Michael BeenerSeptember 20, 2013

“Flyer-friendly” is “user-friendly” for today’s customers

New ads express United’s advances in network, fleet, product, service and customer technology

United Airlines today debuts its new brand campaign, featuring the iconic “Fly the Friendly Skies” tagline, reinterpreted for today’s travelers.

The new campaign, United’s biggest in more than a decade, is based on feedback from customers that “user-friendly” today means the combination of service, technology and product enhancements. United has designed its investments in its global route network, new aircraft, onboard features, customer service and digital channels to be “flyer-friendly.”

The new television commercials and print ads are available at www.united.com/flyerfriendly.

“‘Flyer-friendly’ resonated in feedback from our customers and co-workers,” said Tom O’Toole, United’s senior vice president of marketing and loyalty and president of MileagePlus. “Our new brand campaign expresses the customer focus of all of United’s investments.”

The new campaign includes network, cable and spot television, radio, magazine, newspaper, out-of-home and digital advertising, plus social media. All of the United co-workers shown in the advertising are actual United employees.

Television Advertising

The new television commercials feature Gershwin’s classic “Rhapsody in Blue,” the musical score for United since 1987, and are narrated by actor Matt Damon. They begin airing nationally on Sunday – including during NFL football, the PGA Tour Championship and the Emmy Awards – and continue throughout the week during the prime-time premieres of popular network shows like “Modern Family” and “Saturday Night Live.”

The first television spot, Orchestra, introduces “flyer-friendly” and features musicians playing “Rhapsody in Blue” while seated on a United aircraft. The spot showcases the space available in United BusinessFirst and United Economy Plus and in the airline’s enlarged overhead bins, while spotlighting United co-workers in the cockpit and the cabin.

A second spot, Taxi, shows drivers taking United customers to various airports around the world, displaying the breadth of United’s global route network.

A third, Built Around You, shows the features of United’s cabins – extra-legroom Economy Plus seating, flat-bed seats in United BusinessFirst, in-seat power and seat-back in-flight entertainment – being configured around customers on board.

The fourth, Satellite, highlights the company’s global satellite Wi-Fi now on many aircraft and rolling out fleetwide, which offers customers access to in-flight Internet connectivity over the oceans and almost anywhere in the world where United flies.

One of United's new print ads

One of United’s new print ads

Print, Radio, Outdoor, Digital and Social Media

In addition to the television advertising, the campaign features:

  • Print ads that begin running in newspapers and magazines around the country this weekend.
  • Radio ads in the airline’s U.S. hub markets on news and sports radio stations.
  • Out-of-home ads, including on billboards, airport boards and digital displays.
  • Digital ads on a wide range of websites.
  • Social media, including the United Hub and United’s Facebook, TwitterYouTubeLinkedIn and Instagram channels.

The campaign will also be visible across United’s sponsorship portfolio, including the 12 NFL teams United flies, the New York Marathon and the professional basketball and hockey teams the airline sponsors.

Each ad relates a United product or service feature to the word “friendly” – such as legroom-friendly, nonstop-friendly, and Wi-Fi-friendly – demonstrating how United delivers flyer-friendly options in many forms.

United developed the campaign with its global creative agency McGarryBowen. Horizon Media, Inc. managed the media investment.

Product & Service Investments

Since 2010, United has been delivering on its promise to build the world’s leading airline, investing in its aircraft, airport facilities, reliability and customer service. The airline has:

  • Completed installation of premium-cabin flat-bed seats on every scheduled long-haul international flight from the continental United States, with more aircraft offering flat-bed comfort and personal on-demand entertainment than any U.S. airline.
  • Expanded Economy Plus seating to include nearly 800 aircraft, offering the world’s largest number of extra-legroom economy seats and giving travelers more space to work and relax.
  • Deployed Wi-Fi on nearly 100 aircraft to date, with some 30 aircraft being outfitted with satellite Wi-Fi each month and nearly all of United’s worldwide fleet on schedule for completion in 2014.
  • Increased overhead storage on most of the airline’s 152 Airbus aircraft.
  • Refitted most of the aircraft that fly on transcontinental “p.s.” routes between New York Kennedy and Los Angeles and San Francisco with the latest cabins, premium-cabin flat-bed seats, and personal on-demand entertainment and Wi-Fi throughout the aircraft.
  • Raised operational reliability, achieving on-time performance ratings in line with or exceeding industry averages, particularly in the last 12 months, as co-workers work together to deliver competitive performance.
  • Invested in new customer service training programs for all of the airline’s customer-contact employees, with nearly 90 percent of flight attendants, contact-center employees and airport-based employees having completed training programs in 2013 designed to help them find new ways to offer solutions to customers and better support each other.
  • Opened a modern, new regional-aircraft terminal in Houston and outfitted jet-bridges at the airline’s regional-jet terminal facilities in Chicago.
  • Significantly upgraded United Club lounges in Chicago O’Hare terminal 2, Seattle and San Diego with improved amenities, modern interiors, more power outlets and complimentary snacks and Wi-Fi.
About The Author
Michael Beener
Michael Beener