After 13 years in marketing at Trans World Airlines followed by a 17-year absence, Don Casey is back again-in the new post of exec VP-marketing. It comes at a time when the airline could use a new image.
"Here I am again," Mr. Casey said. "I know the airline, I know the industry. I've had a very rich marketing life."
Previous stints included chairman of the Americas at Young & Rubicam; CEO at Y&R's Landor Associates; founder of Seabrook Associates; and, most recently, at Deskey, Luxon, Carra, New York, as a consultant. In the 1960s, Mr. Casey, 61, also worked at Doyle Dane Bernbach, Procter & Gamble Co. and Johnson & Johnson.
"I basically marketed TWA from the '70s into the '80s," Mr. Casey said. "During that period, we were very competitive and innovative. We went through several energy crises and a huge
Between the crash of TWA Flight 800 last year and current financial difficulties, the airline has been through recent crises as well, presenting new challenges. TWA reported a $284 million loss in 1996 and, in May, two major airports threatened to lock out TWA for being behind on payments.
`GONE THROUGH A LOT'
"TWA has gone through a lot," admitted Mr. Casey. "The company never quite reached the potential it should have."
The airline's perception is "improving" he said, adding, "every brand has momentum-it's either going up or down."
On-time performance has improved and a series of planned announcements "will be moving it forward for us."
Mr. Casey said TWA is now "looking more at the front of the plane" for new "branded products and services"-an apparent reference to redesigned first and businesses classes. This follows the May rollout of 60% more first-class seats through new chairs.
Asked if TWA will return its efforts to international service, Mr. Casey replied, "What is this airline's name? International is an enormous opportunity for us."
He mentioned major improvements to the airline's gateway, Kennedy Airport in New York, and said that the carrier is "looking hard and talking to people" about more international partnerships.
TWA just launched a new ad campaign from D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, St. Louis, themed "We want to be your airline." The ads use "straight talk" featuring employee-owners.
A print campaign backs a new on-time guarantee during June that doles out 1,000 frequent-flier miles if the flight misses its mark, within a 15-minute grace period.
The airline has slowly increased its media budget during the last two years and this year may equal the $45 million it spent in 1993.
Mr. Casey said this year's ad spending will go up from the $39 million of 1996, adding, "I look at advertising as an investment, not an expense."
For him, "ideas are king-or queen. I've always had a high regard for innovation. I have a willingness to go out there, be competitive and take our best shot."