United is running five new animated ads during the Olympics, in a a continuation of its "It's Time To Fly" campaign. The thing is, I hated the original incarnation of that campaign, and wrote a column trashing it in February 2006 when new ads for that campaign were debuting with the Super Bowl. See my Travel Weekly column here (free registration required). (PREEMPTIVE STRIKE for the grammar police: For some reason, all of the apostrophes disappeared in the online posting of my column, but I do know where they are supposed to go!)
The problem, then as now, is that most of the ads say nothing at all about the product, even though part of United's point is that it has a new international business class with a lie-flat seat. Take a look here at the five ads and consider the statement below, from United's press release about the ads.
“Unveiling new ads during the Summer Olympics provides us with a high-profile, worldwide stage to effectively showcase the comforts of our new international first and business class service,” said Dennis Cary, senior vice president – marketing. “As we roll out our new international premium travel experience, now is the optimal time to demonstrate to the global traveler that we understand how vastly important a truly lie-flat bed in both first and business class is to feeling relaxed and rewarded.”
Does the message United says it wants to convey actually come across in its ads?
But perhaps I'm just out of touch. After all, United's original "It's Time To Fly" ad campaign, which actually debuted in 2005, won a Gold Effie Award that year because, in the award-giver's words, it "focused single-mindedly on making an emotional, brand-based connection" with consumers. My condemnation of the newest ads sparked a lively debate in our newsroom, with some editors praising them as effective. You can hear some of that debate play out here, on a Things With Wings Radio Show podcast that features not only PR guru Peter Shankman, but also myself and fellow Aviation Daily editors Benet Wilson and Madhu Unnikrishnan.
Then come back here and add your comments, and also your vote: Wonderful or worthless?