Authenticity is one of the keys to experiential marketing, or to all Decent Marketing, for that matter. So you can just imagine how much I can't stand it when a company is undeservedly self-congratulatory, or takes credit where credit isn't due. Delta's new full-page ad campaign for its launch of Simplifares really grates on my nerves. The ad features the headline "How one airline is changing everything," as well as the company's new slogan "Good goes around." Are you kidding me?!
As a Delta Medallion member and resident of Atlanta, I feel I can discuss Delta with a fair amount of authority. Firstly, on the headline "How one airline is changing everything", Delta clearly was not the airline that changed everything. Have they never heard of Southwest Airlines or JetBlue? If we were being perfectly honest here, the ad might have read "How one airline finally got the picture" or "How one airline eventually got a clue before going completely bankrupt". For sure, other major airlines are now following suit, so Delta is having an impact, but I still don't see how they could have written that ad with a straight face.
And then there's "good goes around". Well it sure does. So what is it that Delta has done that is so good the company felt it should claim the phrase as its slogan? I decided to check out the last 2004 Air Travel Consumer Report from the Department of Transportation. According to that report, from October 2003 to October 2004, Delta ranked 15th out of 19 airlines tracked in terms of on-time arrivals, with 76.8% of arrivals on time. Continental, JetBlue, United, Airtran, Northwest and Southwest all had better percentages. When it comes to bags, Delta mishandled more bags than any other airline in October 2004, according to the report, with 34,723 baggage reports. They also oversold more flights than JetBlue, Airtran, United, American, Northwest, US Airways and Southwest. And finally, in terms of complaints filed with the Department of Transportation by consumers, the report indicates that Delta received more complaints than any other airline in October 2004, and ranked 16th out of 19 airlines tracked in terms of complaints per enplanements. The airlines with the least complaints were ExpressJet, SkyWest, JetBlue and Southwest. If that’s the kind of good that’s going around, I don’t want any.
As an Atlantan, as someone who lives on the South side of the city where most of the pilots and flight attendants live, and as a Delta frequent flyer, I want Delta to succeed. It’s great to be able to run up to Hartsfield and go anywhere I want to go, and actually have a chance of getting an upgrade now and then. But you can’t claim you’re Hertz when you’re Avis or Enterprise. Delta would have been better served to take the “We’re going to try harder” approach. It would be more believable, and completely welcomed.