Tagline Panic Setting in at American Airlines?

So it’s Sunday night and I was just watching the Colorado Rockies win their third consecutive game against Arizona. It’s an incredible run.

But that’s not the reason I’m blogging.

I want to comment on an American Airlines commercial that got through my ad filter during the game. Know I didn’t actually see the spot, I just picked up on their tagline, “We know why you fly.”

I immediately reacted: “Well, I should hope so.”

In fact, at least a majority of the taglines I hear today get that same response from me.

I first heard that response presented by Rich Harshaw and Ed Earle of Y2Marketing in a two-disk, no-nonsense mini-course called Monopolize Your Marketplace.

Their point is that most taglines (aka slogans and positioning statements) are platitudes that mean nothing, that don’t engage the audience and certainly don’t differentiate the advertiser. Their test for platitudes is the line, “Well I should hope so”.

Clever phrases that don’t differentiate, or at least imply a benefit, are a waste of money.

Just what had American Airlines in mind with that wimpy statement?

Had research shown that the flying public thinks other airlines don’t know that people fly to get to a destination? That they fly for business? That they fly on vacations? That they fly to visit friends and relatives?

No, there’s something else going on here. American Airlines, at the urging of their ad agency no doubt, believe by making a statement that another airline has not already made, that they can preempt a position.

But it’s not a differentiated position, nor is it one that is specifically benefit oriented. Knowing why you fly just means you’ve done market research. Taking action is what counts. I think they just got desperate. That deadlines were approaching. That they had seen so many tag candidates that they finally accepted one that was least objectionable. I don’t know how else such a lame tagline bereft of concept could have been adopted.

Anyway, I vote for taglines that aren’t platitudes.

And I’ll cheer on those amazin’ Rockies.

Martin Jelsema

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