Cathay updates image with movement

Campaign has personal, emotional resonance

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HONG KONG--Cathay Pacific Airways is following in the footsteps of other premium travel and tourism marketers like the Mandarin Oriental and Peninsula hotel groups by giving its advertising a more personal and emotional resonance. The Hong Kong-based airline rolled out a global ad campaign in over 20 markets around the world last month called "Born to Move," to communicate that Cathay is in the business of moving people, both physically and emotionally.

The marketing platform will run at least two or three years, said Hong Kong-based Vince Viola, worldwide account director for Cathay Pacific at McCann Erickson, the airline's longtime agency. "Rather than focus on the physical aspect of Cathay's global network, we wanted to focus on the emotional side of moving, which is an intrinsic part of all of us, but people move in different ways. We wanted to celebrate movement."

The airline's brand image hasn't been hurting. The world's leading air transport research organization, Skytrax, for example, named Cathay "the world's best airline" in 2005, "but we were seen as an efficient, reliable premium airline. So we wanted to loosen our tie a bit and show our personality, the softer side of the airline, to make the brand more personal and make the airline more dynamic, progressive and resourceful."

The theme is illustrated by a colorful 60" montage TV spot, scored with drum-based world music, of people around the world moving--or rather dancing, hopping, jumping, skipping and bowing--on city streets, at basketball courts, on top of statues and school desks, in subways and karaoke bars in five locales: Hong Kong, Beijing, Tokyo, New York and Paris. The copy reads: "We're born to move. Move farther. To over 90 destinations worldwide," summed up with Cathay's tagline "Now you're really flying" and a shot of a plane in the sky at the end.

That thematic spot is supported by ten 15" commercials that are essentially expanded versions of brief moments pulled from the montage in the full-length ad, such as a pair of older Chinese men performing Tai Chi movements in front of a temple, with a message tagged onto the end, like "Moving you to the heart of China." Additional 15" spots will be introduced regularly over the coming year, such as an upcoming version about an elderly couple dressed in 1950's clothing and dancing with an offbeat style.

The "Born to Move" campaign also includes a pair of 60" "Friendship" spots featuring two friends hugging at an old-fashioned deli counter after an extended absence. Both versions were filmed in New York, but one features two Italian friends, in the other the pair are Korean. (None of the four "characters" is played by a professional actor. The men, who really are pairs of old friends, were found through New York casting agency Real People.)

The campaign will run in international print and TV such as CNN International, BBC World, Eurosport, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Conde Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure as well as local media in Hong Kong and Beijing, the only major destination in mainland China served by Cathay..

"The media mix does include some lifestyle titles, such as the FT's glossy How To Spend It weekend magazine, because we want this campaign to have a broader, younger and more dynamic feel, while not alienating hardcore frequent business travelers, because this campaign shows a different side to those passengers and a different side to the airline," said Mr. Viola.

The above-the-line executions are supported online with a micro Web site, including a short film about the making of the ad campaign, a map of the world with tips about various destinations and a chat room where readers can add information about what moves them in different cities, like restaurants, tourist spots and cultural events.

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