While showing city scenes, the TV spot from Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, asks: "Why have one [World Trade Tower] when you can have two? . . . Why do business in a mere 8 hours when you can work 24? Why have one airport when you can have five?"
The campaign's budget represents "close to double" Delta's previous presence in the market, said Tim Mapes, director of worldwide marketing communications.
The effort mirrors a campaign American Airlines launched in April that emphasizes New York, with an estimated $10 million push promoting American as "New York's bridge to the world."
Both carriers are trying to defend themselves in a market Continental Airlines has selected as a major hub and in which it advertises heavily. Continental uses Newark, N.J., as its hub.
The new effort closely follows the Oct. 1 launch of a humorous campaign for the Delta Express discount unit.
Tod Seisser, chief creative officer at Saatchi, called the campaign "tongue-in-cheek" and said it is about "the whole notion of the New York mind-set that too much of anything is good."
"We've got preference in product offerings but never increased our presence across all our different lines of business," Mr. Mapes said, citing a 58% market share for the Delta Shuttle.
He compared the campaign to the effort the company put into New York when it acquired Pan Am in 1991.
"We've never brought in ad support behind all the product offerings of Delta Express, Delta Shuttle, trans-Atlantic and new service to Asia and Latin America," he said.
Though Delta has a strong position in the market already, "Delta is the 600-pound gorilla and we did not want to acquiesce that position to anyone else," Mr. Seisser said, referring to American's effort.
"New York is an extremely competitive airline market with just about every carrier competing for business," commented Paul Gold, executive director at Temerlin McClain, Dallas, American's shop.
Delta ad spending, $57 million in 1997 according to Competitive Media Reporting, will remain flat this year, Mr. Mapes said. American spent $62 million on media last year.