The setting is almost other-worldly: one moment a jubilant Shah Rukh Khan lies sprawled on a royal bed, and the next, he leaps out of the bed to face his personal wardrobe. Then, even before he can throw on his jacket, he’s bounding to a candlelit dinner for two.
On the date, much like reality, the actor feels watched, so he closes the door and announces “privacy is a good idea”. What sounds like a 40-second endorsement for a luxury resort is actually an introduction to Jet Airways’ newly launched first-class suite, full with an 83-inch bed, a wardrobe, a 23-inch flat-screen television, and even a foot massage system.
The TVC, which broke on September 1, is the first of three campaigns Jet has planned (the ones on economy and premier will follow), and is running across most news channels and some specialised travel channels. Produced by Red Chillies Entertainment and shot by filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, the ad marks the television debut of the airline major, which had previously relied heavily on the print medium.
The move is somewhat surprising, given the fact that airlines’ gasoline bills are spiralling out of control, and conventionally, this is a time to cut costs. So is Jet going against the grain to reiterate its leadership? Or is the situation so grim that even such a well-known brand is forced to put itself out there?
“Funnily enough, at a time when fuel prices are going up, it is all the more reason to remind people of the brand’s advantages. Moreover, it’s a great way to reach out to a wider audience and consolidate its image as a leader,” says Shamit Sinha, managing partner of Alchemist Brand Consulting.
On the other hand, Harish Bijoor of Harish Bijoor Consults thinks that Jet is advertising its offerings to gain some lost ground owing to the growing popularity of Kingfisher. “Typically, the print medium is low-cost and has a functional appeal, while television is more thematic. Besides it’s the holiday season, so what better time to advertise,” adds Bijoor.
Perhaps it’s a bit of everything. With Shah Rukh Khan in the lead, Shekhar Kapur behind the camera, and the larger-than-life feel of the ad, which is to be followed by two others, it’s for sure the airline isn’t taking things lying down — be it competition or its losses in the latest quarter.
But where Kingfisher’s ads strike a more emotional chord, with customers’ flying experience at the forefront, Jet harps on product superiority. Precisely, Jet’s point. Says Jet Airways vice-president, marketing Gaurang Shetty, “First-class offers luxuries like flat-screen, flat bed, aisle access and the premier class has 73-inch flat beds, a 44-inch-high privacy screen and a 15-inch TV. Economy will also have a small leg hammock to provide calf support and a reclining option.” He adds, “We’re the first airline to bring out the suite.”
The brief given to advertising agency M&C Saatchi was straightforward. “Jet had come out with Boeing 777 last year, which has some superior features, so we had to come up with something that clearly highlighted those,” explains M&C Saatchi executive director Rajiv Sabnis. He says, “We were raising the profile of the brand and surely it deserved a television commercial.”
While there was no formal research that backed the campaign, customer feedback did help Jet design the first-class suites to meet customer needs and come up with a top-of-the-line product, which it claims is well ahead of its international counterpart Singapore Airlines.
But Boeing 777’s induction into Jet’s fleet was announced early last year, so why this delay in the ad? “It took us a while to get Shah Rukh and Shekhar’s dates to coincide,” replies Sabnis. That, or is it also perhaps that both Kingfisher and Jet have now taken their fight to the foreign skies? Kingfisher launched daily flights from Bangalore to London on September 3, and Jet will soon offer Bangalore passengers a direct flight to Brussels. Moreover, the threat from international airlines such as British Airways, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and Emirates who are slowly but surely gaining ground in India looms large.
Jet is, however, hoping the move will pay off. “In terms of occupancy, we’re at about 70 per cent, but the endorsement should raise that to 80 per cent,” says Shetty. Regarding the choice of celebrity, Shetty believes he has a winner on his hands. “Nobody can convey the product better. What’s more, here’s a face that’s known globally.”
In addition to the TVC, there will be online and print promotions. The ad took about five months to complete and was shot in Mumbai and London.
6 months ago