Delta Reaches Out to Customers After Acquisition

Airline Runs Full-Page Newspaper Ads Addressing $2.8 Billion Merger With Northwest

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Less than 24 hours after the Justice Department approved Delta Air Lines' $2.8 billion acquisition of Northwest Airlines, what is now the world's largest air carrier launched an ad campaign informing its customers that the business of air travel was still business as usual.
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Delta ran this ad less than 24 hours after the Justice Department approved the acquisition.


A full-page ad in the form of a letter from Delta CEO Richard Anderson running in today's Wall Street Journal, USA Today and New York Times as well as tomorrow's Financial Times informs customers of the completed merger, the airline's rebranding plans, the impact the merger will have on frequent fliers and its plans for launching a "fully consolidated worldwide flight schedule."

"Our goal is to ensure that you continue to have a safe, reliable experience delivered with excellent customer service," the letter reads. "Over the next 12 to 24 months, we will integrate customer processes wherever it makes sense to do so. Much work is being done to bring Delta and Northwest together -- all with your experience in mind. Though it will take some time to become fully integrated, the process will be thoughtful and as convenient for you as possible."

No change of plans
Delta spokesman Kent Landers said it was important to let customers know there was no need to make any changes to their holiday travel plans as a result of the merger. "As we go into the holiday season, it's important that customers know they should continue to do business with Delta and Northwest as they always have," Mr. Landers said. "Nothing changes. It really is a 'Welcome to the new Delta, and we are pleased to have you onboard. '"

There are no immediate plans for any TV spots or other ad efforts.

"This is a very succinct and short campaign," Mr. Landers said. "As we go forward into the next year or so, the marketing teams will be looking at how we move forward with additional campaigns."

Mr. Landers said both airlines' frequent-flier members were contacted with a personal e-mail from Mr. Anderson as well, alerting them to the upgrades and benefits now available to them.

'Moving quickly'
The new Delta still will be headquartered in Atlanta and will have 75,000-plus employees worldwide. In the next year, the airline will rebrand all elements of the company as Delta. "We actually have already begun fitting Northwest flight attendants for new Delta uniforms," Mr. Landers said. The flight attendants will begin wearing the new uniforms toward the end of March. "We will be moving quickly to begin bringing the brand together so there is a consistent experience for customers," he said.

Mr. Landers said it was too early to discuss what would happen with the airlines' agency relationships. Delta's agencies include SS&K, Dan Klores Communications and Lippincott.

He also said the airline would not yet comment on the impact the merger will have on the airlines' internal marketing and communications staffs. A story in yesterday's Atlanta Business Chronicle said Lee Macenczak, exec VP-sales and marketing at Delta, was one senior Delta official who would be leaving by the end of the year. Mr. Landers would not confirm that report.
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