How a major International Airline
combated competition using Direct Marketing.
Case Study #31:
Consumer Air Travel - International
Canadian Airlines, with a service-matching
problem from an excellent competitor, Cathay Pacific
Airlines (CP Air) is a billion dollar Airline, which gets much of its revenue
from its International Routes. As a result, Canadian Canadian Airlines
chooses to maintain great sensitivity to the cultures in the countries to which
it flies. For example, Canadian flies to Germany and maintains a profile that is
suitable to its German Travelers. And so on, around the world. To
most destinations, Canadian is the preferred "classy airline", with
the best food, best service and best times. And Canadian can simply repeat its
quality message and it will benefit from that upscale business.
This is a campaign to specifically combat an
equally good competitor, Cathay Pacific, on the routes to Hong Kong and Japan.
Here's the Problem
Canadian Airlines (called CP Air in those days), is a quality
airline, and is normally the quality choice for travel from most
destinations. Normally, if a traveler wants great in-flight service, and
will pay a hefty premium, he will fly CP Air. Except to Asia. In Asia,
Cathay Pacific, was regarded very highly by Asian travelers. In fact,
Cathay Pacific, correctly highly regarded
throughout Asia, was actually gaining Market Share over CP
Air. Not a good thing at all, if you're CP Air. So CP Air asked us to
find a way to convince Asian travelers that CP Air was every bit as good as
Cathay Pacific. Which is not an easy task, because Cathay is such a good airline.
And, competitively, Cathay could match any CP offers dollar for dollar, sushi
roll for sushi roll. Pause for a minute, and think of the difficulty of
We figured that Asian
travelers, who are perceived as having
a strong sensitivity to Art, would like to receive some nice Asian Art Prints. So
we obtained reproduction rights to four original Art Pieces from two respected Asian artists.
We reprinted them on high-quality paper, so that they looked like they were
high quality and substantial weight. Sizes and styles were chosen to enable the
four prints to make a nice set of four
when framed. Considering the cost was only $2.00 for all four, they looked
We figured that if we interested the Asian
travelers in Art, then
they'd follow along with our sales pitch about how terrific CP Air was.
Especially, we wanted to have the Asian travelers feel that CP Air was
sensitive to their specific Asian needs. CP Air already had great sushi and other
Asian foods being served onboard the aircraft that flew to Asia. Also, the
flight crews were all bi-lingual. So all
we had to do was tell the travelers that.
The Finished Mailer:
This is a large 9"x12" envelope.
Asian-styled look was chosen for the envelope. We tested this with Asian
users to see if it was appropriate to their culture. It would have been
suicide if we had not understood their culture for this mailing. After
all... this was to show how sensitive Canadian was to the needs of the Asian
community. They liked it.
Don't peek yet. See how the envelope,
right up front, tells you about the
valuable Fine Art prints enclosed.
Click to Enlarge
Note the first words.... Oriental Fine Art Prints
- Suitable for Framing.
Next we show a print, framed, in a style that is suitable to an Asian
esthetic. And a brief pitch saying how CP Air has the appropriate sensitivity, and a new
CLASS of service to the Orient.
of these fine Art Prints have been selected by CP Air to reflect the
flavour of the Orient and to celebrate the introduction of Royal Canadian
A close-up of the actual print, now
Because we could not afford
the high cost of framing, at least we could show how it would look once it was framed.
We actually did not expect anyone would really spend the $200.00 necessary to
frame the prints. But we wanted to show them how great if would look IF
they did frame them.
Click to Enlarge
Finally, we included detailed biographies of the two well-known
put together a biography about each artist, including details that might not be
well known.This was intended to be for both for those who were
knowledgeable about these artists and those who were not.
One artist is Chinese, the other is Japanese. This balance seemed
necessary, so as not to favor one destination over the other.
We focused upon the Asian Art, not on our
Note that very little has been said about the Airline. And lots has
been said about Asia and these Asian Artists. There was also a
separate brochure included that outlined the details of the new Royal Canadian
Click to Enlarge
And the results?
We were not expecting that this campaign would do much more than give every
recipient "warm fuzzies" about CP Air. In fact, we were
astonished to find that several other clients of ours, not connected with CP Air, who
had coincidentally been on the list, had actually spent about $200.00 each to have the four
prints framed, and then had hung them in their private offices - prominently. Who would have expected that $2.00 in prints would have
encouraged executives to spend $200.00 to have them framed and then shown so
Now, every time that this executive sees these prints on his office wall, he will
think positively about Canadian Airlines. And importantly - make the conscious
association of Canadian Airlines and Asian-positiveness.
And it worked spectacularly well
The client was also very pleased with the back-end results. In other
words, Cathay Pacific was no longer taking market share away from Canadian
Airlines. We never had to repeat this campaign, it was so successful.
Additionally - how could Cathay Pacific ever mount any response to this mailer?
We call this pre-emptive marketing - where you calculate, as best you can, the
possible reactions by the competition, and take that into account with your
How can you use this idea for your
Your company may need to
communicate a message. Your chosen audience, your lists, are interested in
something of benefit to them. Customers are seldom interested in features.
Try to find a way to do both, or integrate both together somehow.
Naturally every business is unique, and will have a unique solution. Don't fall
into the trap of thinking that this needs to be expensive. If it's a good
idea, it can often be done very inexpensively. If you're starting to like expensive
ideas, it probably means you haven't found the right idea - YET.
How can we help you with this?
We can work with your existing staff or independently, and suggest a
number of possible ideas to you. Then, it's your option to adopt all, some
or none of these ideas. We can
help implement them, or allow your
existing staff to do the job. You can contact us directly by phone at 778-435-2120, ask for Doug White, or email us using this button:
See this mailer in
We have samples of this campaign that we can show you in person.
| To see another
Direct Mail idea done for Canadian Airlines, for their Air Cargo division, click this link:
|See a list of our Clients who have used Direct Mail Marketing: Click:
| See a Case Study of a B2B
Direct Mail Campaign we did for DHL Worldwide Express: Click
|See a Case Study of a B2B
Direct Mail Campaign and Loyalty Program that we did for Canadian Airlines
| See a Case Study of a B2B
Direct Mail Campaign we did for Overland Freight Lines: Click
Mentor Marketing - Travel Marketing Specialists