A 'fine line'
Alaska Airlines this week introduced a new campaign from Mekanism where it pledges to be the “official airline of rescheduled events.” The push, which promotes consumers to reclaim the “missed moments” of birthdays, weddings and graduations from the pandemic, includes massive deals on flights consumers can book from Sept. 7 to Nov. 17 as well as Nov. 30 to Dec. 15. The long lead time of including a December flight was intentional, according to Natalie Bowman, managing director of marketing and advertising at Alaska Airlines.
“Because of the delta variant we want to make sure we continue to be respectful of when people are ready to travel,” she says. In the spring, when COVID appeared to be nearing the rearview, the brand pulled back from imagery around mask wearing and social distancing guidelines in its marketing, Bowman says, but Alaska Airlines recently brought such themes back to the forefront. Yet it is still showing a balance by not returning to doom and gloom and somber messaging.
“There’s a fine line between entertaining and educating and being respectful,” says Bowman. “Once you find that fine line, it pays dividends with the loyalty you get and better engagement—people want to live their lives and not always be worried.”
Last week, Tripadvisor partnered with Lysol on an expert panel designed to help hospitality and tourism businesses cope with new regulations and guidance. The panel continues a partnership that developed during the pandemic.
“The delta variant is definitely a catalyst for us to bring this to market but the need for consumers to feel like they’re safe and that connection between safety and cleanliness has been a common theme throughout the summer and we expect will be a theme through the immediate future,” says a Tripadvisor spokesman. “What a business is doing [about] best practices to clean is what consumers will be looking at.”
If it’s too late to pull a tone-deaf campaign, experts say there are alternatives for marketers to continue to connect with customers. Email is one way to manage ever-changing regulations, for example.
“Things change so rapidly right now—many companies are well on their way to Super Bowl ads,” says Whitler. “I would manage the evolution through email—if the government regulation changes today and Target decides all their customers have to wear masks, they can send out an email today, they can’t go create an ad today.”
She says that for existing ads, brands could try to adapt the audio, moving away from a welcome back message to one around adapting to a new normal, for example. They can also use extra film to adjust imagery to feel more in keeping with the current consumer sentiment.
“There’s a small tweak there that can make it feel it fits better in the current era where it’s uncertain again,” Whitler says.