AIRLINE ADS TOUT S. AFRICA

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How do you launch a new airline to South Africa when news coverage daily displays gruesome scenes of violence?

That's the challenge confronting Richmond, Va., agency Siddall, Matus & Coughter as it helpsUSAfrica Airways get off the ground. The new airline plans to take off in June from Dulles International Airport near Washington, and initially fly non-stop twice a week to Johannesburg.

As part of the $3 million campaign, USAfrica and Siddall first courted travel agents this month in color spreads showing off the region's exotic wildlife, with consumer ads following.

Ads will appear in Travel Age, Travel Agent, Travel Weekly and Canadian Travel Press. A consumer ad will appear in Washington Flyer, while other ads may follow later in Business Week, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure and The Wall Street Journal.

One trade ad shows a lion's eyes and is headlined "He's just waiting for your next client." Another features two lionesses and says, "There seems to be a certain animal magnetism to South Africa."

"The No. 1 appeal to those who visit is the wildlife," said Peter Coughter, president of the agency.

About half of those who journey to the region do so for pleasure, Mr. Coughter said. These people tend to be older, more affluent and are experienced world travelers. About 25% travel on business and another 25% to visit friends and family.

"Direct and exclusively to southern Africa" is the tagline.

While advertising doesn't address political unrest, public relations efforts aimed at travel writers will. Siddall's PR unit, William Hamby Communications, is charged with educating travel writers about the airline and the region's finest attractions. It works closely with LCT & Associates, Johannesburg.

USAfrica will be the only U.S.-flagged airline flying direct to South Africa.

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