NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- JetBlue will land its first jet at Los Angeles International Airport today and has packed the plane with YouTube celebrities to document the ride.
In a bid to build buzz for its new routes from New York's JFK and Boston's Logan International to LAX, the airline is counting on a stream of tweets and videos produced by Howcast and YouTube stars such as Kevin Nalts, Delphine Dijon, Justine Ezarik and Meghan Asha. To facilitate that, JetBlue is using its one plane with wireless internet access, BetaBlue, for the JFK-to-LAX flight.
None of the bloggers is being paid directly by JetBlue, but all got a free flight, and some are being paid by Howcast to produce how-to videos featuring JetBlue. The airline asked all the bloggers to disclose the relationship in whatever videos they produce and to keep them "family-friendly."
"We wanted it to be transparent; we're not trying to hide JetBlue, we just wanted them to have the space to do it in their own voice and make it interesting," said Rachel Viega, account supervisor at MediaCom Interaction, a unit of WPP, which oversees JetBlue's digital marketing.
JetBlue opted for a low-budget, slightly experimental media plan around the flights. The company bought outdoor and radio spots in Los Angeles to promote the new routes, as well as print ads in AMNewYork. But the airline is counting on the cast of video bloggers on the plane to seed YouTube and the Twittersphere with reports from BetaBlue.
JetBlue contracted with Howcast to produce a number of how-to videos related to air travel, including "How to Fly Coast to Coast" and "Happy Jetting with Delphine," which will be distributed on Howcast's network and YouTube. Howcast CEO Jason Liebman said all the videos have a "shout out" to JetBlue that discloses the connection.
JetBlue started flights into LAX on Wednesday, its third airport in the Los Angeles area; it already flies to Long Beach and Burbank. After some PR disasters last year and new competition on Los Angeles routes from Virgin America, the airline emerged with a savvy, recession-themed marketing campaign.
It has also made a habit of listening to its customers via Twitter. Its feed @JetBlue, managed by PR rep Morgan Johnston, has more than 680,000 followers. Recent tweet: "on BetaBlue with some fun folks at 28,000 feet and climbing for our JFK-LAX launch."