‘Ingredient branding’ approach key for Boeing’s Dreamliner

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Chicago—Robert Pollack, VP-advertising, brand and marketing positioning at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, described the company’s “ingredient branding” approach to marketing the 787 Dreamliner in a keynote speech Wednesday at the 2010 Annual BMA conference.

Pollack said Boeing began marketing the plane to end users—passengers—from the beginning, modeling the approach on Intel Inc.’s longtime strategy of making consumers care about microprocessors and DuPont’s famous approach to its brands such as Corian and Teflon. In 2003, Pollack said, Boeing held a contest and a vote to help name the 787. More than 500,000 people voted, and the Dreamliner name won.

Throughout the production process—even when the new composite structure of the airplane caused delays—Boeing continued to market the Dreamliner to all of its constituencies, which include passengers, airline employees, corporate travel agents and, of course, the ultimate paying customer, the airlines.

The Dreamliner’s inaugural flight, which took place Dec. 15, was streamed live on the Internet, continuing Boeing’s efforts to market to the wide audience of potential passengers. The company has also partnered with the airlines that have agreed to purchase the airplane, holding media events with, for example, Virgin Airlines that featured the carrier’s CEO, Richard Branson, as well as Boeing Chairman and President-CEO James McNerney.

Pollack said he learned his first lesson about ingredient branding while a marketer in General Electric Co.’s small appliance unit. The company chose to market an iron with the heat coating Xylan, a competitor with DuPont’s Silverstone, because it was about 10 times cheaper. However, a competitor went with the DuPont product, backed by its marketing to consumers. “That killed us in the marketplace,” Pollack said

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