06 June 2008

Fun Doesn't Work? My Derrie-Air.

The people of Philadelphia were introduced to a unique addition to the airline industry today with the launch of a one-day Derrie-Air airlines campaign. Shop in the big and tall? This may not be the airline for you. Instead of pricing all coach seats the same, this airline charges by passenger weight: from $1.40/lb. to $2.25/lb., depending on the destination. "The more you weigh, the more you pay," they claim.

While this may seem unfair, the pricing is justified by environmental awareness. The heavier the plane's contents, they reason, the more fossil fuels required to fly from point A to point B. Seeking to be the first carbon-neutral airline, Derrie-Air promises to plant enough trees to justify the carbon footprint of each flight. The variable pricing schedule insists that passengers offset their individual contribution to those carbon emissions.

This ad campaign, featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer and companion site Philly.com, has headlines sure to catch your eye like "Nice Tail!" and "Fly $2.25/lb." According to reports, the campaign has already been a huge hit, generating tons of earned media exposure and hits on the Derrie-Air website.

Aside from its unique approach to pricing and neat ads, my favorite thing about the campaign is that it's completely fake - it's a joke. It's an effort to prove the value of humor, uniqueness, and guts in advertising...and it worked.

Philadelphia Media Holdings and their ad agency, Gyro, wanted to show potential advertisers that newspaper advertising can still create a buzz. Or, according to Philadelphia Media Holdings' Jay Devine, the campaign sought to "demonstrate the power of our brands in generating awareness and generating traffic for our advertisers, and put a smile on people's faces."

What's the lesson? To me, it's that marketers take themselves too seriously, or not seriously enough. "Fun" works and "controversy" works. Look on YouTube or Technorati and tell me what kind of content attracts the most visitors. It's polarized. Either you see the lighthearted, grab your friend be the shirt-sleeve and say "you've got to see this" material or the controversial, from a distinctly different angle, "oh no they just didn't..." content that drives traffic.

Certainly makes one wonder why financial institutions continue to use boring campaigns that are so vanilla, neither the pleasure seeker nor the inside scoop seeker cares about them. Look at the content of most financial services advertisements. Touchy-feely copy, Shiny Happy People stock photography (a Denise Wymore term), "I've seen that before" layouts, and uninspired messages. If the Derrie-Air ad fooled people into believing it was a real ad, guess what it did? It ticked some people off (especially the ones like me that could lose a few pounds). Chances are those people wanted to go to the Derrie-Air website to complain, or see for themselves how such a horribly unfair system of pricing could actually be implemented. If a reader saw the ads for what they were (a joke), chances are very good that they wanted to go to the website to find out who was behind the hysterically funny ads. Either way, traffic was generated.

Does "Fun" work? Does "Controversy" draw attention? You bet your Derrie-Air! Most everything in-between is a waste of your time as a marketer, and my time as an audience-member. I challenge you to examine what your credit union is doing to drive traffic. If it isn't unique, fun, or controversial...go away. Use the marketing dollars you save to lower loan rates or raise dividend rates. Otherwise, you're just wasting your credit union's (read: members') time and money.


Denise Wymore said...


That's what I'm sayin!!! The goal of any marketing piece should never be to get ZERO reaction.

Shiny Happy People do that. They just lay there on the page needing love and attention - but no one cares.


Jeffry Pilcher said...

Great points.

What you said is so true. People personally love many ads they would never approve professionally.

Jenn Davis said...

Credit Unions -- unique, fun and controversial? Wish we would go there! How do you get upper managment to go for it?

Matt, the Credit Union Warrior said...

@jenn It's a shame that this is too often a bottom-to-top cry for progress. Execs should be the visionaries. It'll happen, I promise. Just hope it's not too late.