Patterned on Southwest Airlines/A&E's 'Airline'

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The deal: In an effort to promote its new no-frills service, Singapore-based Jetstar Asia produced a reality TV show called Jetstar Experience.

The result: Consistently ranking among the top 10 shows in Singapore, the series helped differentiate Jetstar Asia from competitors in the Southwest Asia market.

SINGAPORE –- Following the success of Southwest Airlines' A&E reality hit Airline, Jetstar Asia has backed a reality TV show called Jetstar Experience to promote the launch of its no-frills service in a market cluttered with new competition.
Jetstar's TV reality show followed the model of Southwest Airlines'.

Similar to Southwest Airlines' integration in the A&E program, the nine-episode Jetstar Experience series, jointly developed by the airline and Mediacorp, Singapore’s media conglomerate, for an undisclosed sum, “achieved both high awareness and clear brand differentiation,” said Dorit Greuber, the airline’s Singapore-based head of marketing.

Behind-the-scenes drama

Each half-hour show features on-the-job experiences of two Jetstar flight attendants in “behind-the-scenes human dramas, [a] first-of-its-kind program for Asia and a great way to demonstrate the freshness and approachability of the airline and its people,” said Peter Cheung, Ogilvy RedCard’s project director in Singapore. Each episode included either four 15-second TV spots or three 20 spots for the airline.

Ogilvy RedCard, part of WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide network, helped develop and execute the program as part of a larger marketing campaign to differentiate Jetstar Asia, a partnership between Australia’s Qantas carrier and Singaporean businessmen Tony Chew and F.F. Wong, in Southeast Asia’s competitive airline market.

In addition to established national carriers such as Singapore Airlines (SIA), Cathay Pacific Airways and Malaysia Airlines, the region’s budget airline market has exploded in the past year. Besides Jetstar, Singapore also is home to Valuair, which was founded last May, and Tiger Air, a no-frills service started by SIA and the founder of Europe's Ryan air. Other competitors in the region include Malaysia-based AirAsia, Orient Thai Airlines and Bangkok Airways.

Goal: Bold and fresh

Jetstar Asia needed to establish a “distinctive brand which reflected the bold and fresh approach to running an airline,” Ms. Greuber explained, but as “the third and last entry into [Singapore’s] value-for-money airline market, it was imperative to do something different to stand out from the crowd. [The show was] an opportunity to differentiate Jetstar Asia from competitors.”

The reality series, which aired on Mediacorp’s channel during prime time on Thursday from February to April, included an interactive competition in which viewers could answer questions, posed in the middle of each show, by using SMS messages for a chance to win free flights. The name of one winner was announced on-air each week at the end of the program.

Viewership ratings were consistently above 11%, and up to 17%, which is “fantastic,” Ms. Greuber said, “plus on several occasions, the show was listed among the top 10 shows in Singapore. Whenever I tell people that I work for Jetstar Asia, they always mention the show. I have even heard through contacts that the show was the talk of many dinner table conversations.”

Considering a second season

The airline may create a second season of the show in Singapore and is considering airing Jetstar Experience in other markets served by the airline, such as Hong Kong. No distribution deals have yet been finalized.

Ogilvy RedCard and OgilvyPR created additional buzz about the airline’s debut with TV, print and outdoor ads in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Manila, Singapore and Taipei, supported by offbeat ambient and guerrilla marketing tactics.

For example, Jetstar flew a well-known blind Singaporean street-corner musician to Hong Kong and left a sign by the instruments at his usual performance spot that read, “Gone to Hong Kong for $48 [U.S. $29].” His trip was covered in local media after he returned to Singapore.

The airline also hired a local taxi driver to playfully tease passengers arriving at Singapore’s Changi airport from places like Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines, Jetstar’s full-fare rivals, with signs like, “You could have flown to Hong Kong for just [$29] on Jetstar.”
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