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Home > Business > Business Headline > Report

Now airlines fight on billboards!

Aabhas Sharma in New Delhi | May 09, 2007 12:33 IST

They may not exactly be making great profits, but three airlines are fighting each other out on the billboards.

We've see it happen before and we even had a name for it - Cola wars... And now it's back again - only this time it's another product, an altogether different segment and between more than two players!

Three airline majors - Kingfisher Airlines, Jet Airways and Go Air - are fighting it out with their advertising. It all started with Jet putting up a billboard in Mumbai, saying "We've changed". Kingfisher responded by putting up another billboard atop it, saying, "We made them change".

A few days later, GoAir came up with one of its own (and at the same spot), saying, "We've not changed. We're still the smartest way to fly."

And that's not all. As if working on the series, Jet came up with another billboard which said, "Fly to New York daily". 
Kingfisher countered it with "They've flown to New York from here."

Says Jayshree Sunder, executive vice president, Leo Burnett, "What we are seeing could be the result of Jet buying Sahara and Kingfisher responding to it aggressively."

And for those who thought that this sort of aggression was only limited to Cola companies who are always on a lookout to outdo the other, the first of this kind came up in the 1980s, and that too between HP and Modi Xerox.

Only that time the "war" was restricted to print. It was only a decade later that cola companies - Coke and Pepsi - took the cue to come up with some witty ads battling each other out on the streets (read billboards!).

For a quick recall: Pepsi's response to Coke's "Eat Cricket, Sleep Cricket, Drink Cricket" ad was an ad showing two former cricketers eating bats and sleeping with stumps!

Josy Paul, national creative director, JWT, feels this sort of advertising works really well for the brands. "It is certainly exciting to watch a tactical battle between the competitors.

In the case of airlines, it's not only the fight which has taken to the streets but also the flights."  According to Paul, the new ad war has added a lot of excitement to the "communication from airlines" which had got a tad mundane - "All they talked about was fares and prices!" he says.

Agrees Pratap Suthan, national creative director, Grey India, "It makes the category certainly much more exciting and people will now look out for the next move from either parties." Sunder, too, feels that it would be interesting to see if Jet responds to Kingfisher's latest campaign.

"The real war would start if Jet, the so-called more mature and older brand, takes it to the next level." Although she is quick to add that "it is unlikely", it would be interesting to see if more players join in to make it a bigger battle. Whatever be the case, no one's complaining!

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