Brand Saga: Redefining ‘old is gold’ the Air India way…

Air India advertising journey

While the first part of the Air India advertising journey dwelled into the carrier’s initial days of branding, the second part unravels the contemporary era of it’s marketing when it set out to face the challenge of being an ‘old brand’.

After romancing print as the primary medium of advertising for quite a while, Air India began scheduling advertisements on Television where the commercials focused on endorsing the premium luxury and high-end services that the company offered. Entering into the next decade, Air India embarked on an expedition to defeat the popular notion that it is aging. We take a look at how the Air India advertising journey donned new imagery to sustain itself and contribute to the Indian aviation industry just like the past decades.

Air India advertising journey

By 2011-12, there were various new additions in the aviation sector and competition was raging. By roping in a bunch of industry stalwarts from across sectors including brand honchos from Tata Services, Skoda Auto India, and Godrej – Air India released a testimonial ad film that placed it ahead of its competition in terms of on-time flight take offs, fine dining, and premium entertainment facilities in-flight.

The age-old mascot Maharajah was given a makeover in 2015 wherein now the band was represented by a younger and cooler version of the iconic mascot.

In 2016, Air India stepped up its advertising tactics to lure in passengers from rival carriers like IndiGo.  

The airlines put banner advertisements across a wall behind IndiGo’s check-in counters at the Mumbai domestic airport. The advertisement displayed a message stating – “Next time fly with Air India and feel the difference.” Although the panel did not name any competitor, the aggressive mode of marketing and strategic placement was widely noticed.

However, it’s not the only time that Air India has been in news for taking a jab at its competition. In 2017, the brand released a series of creatives on Twitter, promising ‘Unbeatable Service’ to its passengers with the letters highlighted in blue- the colour that signifies IndiGo.

Later the airlines shifted its focus on human-centric stories and communicating with a personified approach towards advertising. After displaying the crew’s new official wardrobe at the aviation summit, it was now time to revive the brand image adding more heartwarming tales in the Air India advertising journey. Thus was born the campaign titled ‘Divya Ki Chitthi’.

The 3-minute long film captured how the company strives to bring a winsome smile to the face of its passengers every time they fly with Air India. The campaign was promoted across mediums using the hashtags #FlyTheChange #FlyAI.

As part of the campaign, Fly The Change, Air India went onto host a series of short video clips promoting the high-quality in-flight entertainment that it offers in multiple languages for passenger’s comfort, specially equipped in the Air India Boeing  77 Dreamliner.

The communication revolved around persuading consumers to fly with Air India if comforting leg space, great food, and abundant luggage space are what they look for, all while targeting passengers across age groups.

Also Read: Brand Saga: Air India, eight decades of being the ‘Maharajah’ of advertising

Re-emphasizing its tagline ‘Truly Indian’, the Air India advertising journey has been about making people aware of the various features that the airlines imbibe in competition so cut-throat and the factors that differentiate it.

From spreading warmth through A1 hospitality by the crew members to offering the best in class entertainment and comfort in the form of extra room, flatbeds, baggage space and allowance, best connectivity et al.

Customer experience has been at the core of the airlines’ communications strategy since its inception and promotes seamless traveling with Air India with its unmatched hospitality and passenger needs arrangements.

Air India harped on exclusive discounts, sales, and ticketing deals for passengers and advertised the offerings across media platforms for awareness at a larger scale, especially during the holiday season.

In 2019, it kickstarted non-stop flights from Toronto to Delhi and vice versa and promoted the destinations for their rich heritage and tourism in a series of films.

Further with marketing innovations like in-movie integrations with films like Sanju starring Ranbir Kapoor and advertisements revolving around why passengers should select ‘Air India’ over other airlines, Air India put its foot forward to make the passengers fall in love with the brand.

In 2020, when COVID-19 hit the globe, Air India played a pivotal role by being an active participant in the Vande Bharat Mission, an evacuation mission implemented by the government of India to help its citizens stranded in other countries due to lockdown.

In April 2020, it also released a three-minute-long film honoring the Bravehearts and COVID-19 warriors who are relentlessly performing their duties and saving millions of lives while risking their own.

Slowly when restrictions were lifted and travel bans were loosened, the carrier went all about communicating the need of the hour – in terms of necessary precautions undertaken and passenger safety is the focus.

Air India launched a campaign titled #TrueTravelPartner sharing testimonials and new innovations and additions in the flight’s terms of operations. For instance, passengers were allowed to carry their pets along with them in flight wherein the owners shared their overwhelming gratitude towards the airlines.

In its latest campaign ‘Fly with Confidence’ the insight was driven from – family reunions, meeting up with friends, and exploring the world, are some of the things we’ve missed most.

Digital Play

For a heritage brand like Air India, sustenance and growth with time have been the key pillars of existence even after eight decades. The brand, while staying true to its legacy, has kept pace with the evolving times and is nowhere alien to the digital world.

Air India has been active in the digital domain through its presence on various social media platforms – with a 36k following on Instagram, 3k subscribers on YouTube, 470k followers on Twitter as Facebook amasses 5 lakh likes and follows.

In terms of content dissemination, the creativity and information shared across new-age platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook remain similar while YouTube is focused on campaigns and videos around the company’s milestones.

Highlighting its mascot Maharajah on important posts, Air India in current times is primarily seen spreading awareness around the new regulations and safety precautions for its passengers.

From reminding them to wear masks and eat healthy to the newly drafted quarantine rules, the airline keeps its followers updated with any major developments and announcements.

It indulges in answering frequently asked questions and dabbles into topical post and moment marketing on limited occasions.

From creating the many ‘firsts’ to redefining the art of sustaining a brand through times with strategic investments and market planning incorporated into appropriate branding efforts, the Air India advertising journey has been the epitome of strong determination and self-belief.


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