A Little Clever Schadenfreude May Fill Up Some Airline Seats

JetBlue's Latest Print Ad From JWT Takes a Whack at Those Privileged C-Suiters

By Published on .

So mean. So funny. So zeitgeist. So smart.

JetBlue, the high-frills discount airline, is making a big show of welcoming a new category of customer: the corporate swine, chastened by federal bailouts and shamed out of the gilded business life.

Title: Welcome Bigwigs
Marketer: JetBlue
Agency: JWT, New York
JetBlue ad

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the definition of schadenfreude.
You know, those privileged executives whose lavish perks in no way whatsoever have a material affect on earnings, much less the economy at large, but who have come to represent all the wanton greed, rapacity, cupidity and self-indulgence that got us into the current economic nightmare.

Not because it's really their fault. The blame resides mainly not with Corporate America but with Wall Street, sleazy mortgage brokers and laissez-faire government. But these C-suite guys are rich, and we're not, so we hate the sons of bitches. And now, in a bit of cow-out-of-the-barn PR, they're flying commercial.

To everyone's delight but their own. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the definition of schadenfreude. O, how the mighty have fallen! Hee hee hee.

Hence JetBlue's puckish rolling out of the red carpet, down the longest airplane aisle these titans have seen in a good long while.

Greetings, Bigwigs, Muckety-Mucks, Private Jetters, Big Cheeses, Head Honchos, Captains of Industry, Big Spenders, CEOs, CFOs, CMOs, C Whatever Os, Hedge Funders, Investment Bankers, Moguls, Tycoons, Robber barons, Capitalists ... Welcome Aboard!

So reads the web headline on jetblue.com/deals/welcomebigwigs, where the copy goes on to enumerate the airline's many attractive features -- from leather seats to DirecTV to important business destinations -- all in the most smart-assed way possible.

To wit: "JetBlue's fares start at very low prices. Let's just say, they're way, way, way less than the $5,300 an hour you used to pay for your private jet. Now, in exchange for these shareholder-friendly prices, you'll have to share the plane with strangers. Just think of it as jetpooling, only we find the other people for you."

And: "JetBlue offers service to many of the places where you need to conduct business. Places like Bermuda, the Bahamas, St. Maarten, Aruba and West Palm Beach."

And: "On JetBlue, we give you unlimited snacks and sodas for free. We want to repeat that. FREE."

Similar ads were placed in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and elsewhere to the same ostensible target customers in the same derisive tone. Needless to say, however, JetBlue has no strict interest in getting auto execs from Detroit to Washington. (Buffalo-JFK-Dulles, $189 each way with a two-to-three-hour layover). It's just an opportunity to remind all the rest of us that there is a cheap, comfortable alternative to the expense and degradation of Delta, America, USAirways, United, Northwest, Continental et al.

Meanwhile, by so snarkily abusing the dignity of the corporate aristocracy, it gets credit for defending our own. Here's how we're supposed to do the math: "No, a three-hour JFK layover is no fun, but these folks hate Rick Wagoner. The enemy of my enemy is my friend!"

Effigy Marketing, you could call it. Think it's childish and unproductive? Don't be so quick to dismiss the power of negative thinking. This is a country that, in a bizarre nose-thumbing to the most prominent member of the Coalition of the Iraq Unwilling, substantially boycotted French fries.

Yeah, there are bankruptcies and foreclosures everywhere, but nobody ever went broke overestimating the enmity and resentment of the American people.

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