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Midwest Express Airlines launches a cable TV campaign today in its effort to seek a higher national profile.

The estimated $1.4 million campaign, which marks the airline's major advertising push for the year, also includes spot TV in the carrier's principal markets of Milwaukee, Omaha and Kansas City, as well as spot radio and print.

Spot TV in the Chicago area, where Midwest tries to convince travelers to make the short land trip to its Milwaukee hub, also is on tap.

The two new spots from Bender, Browning, Dolby & Sanderson, Chicago, use the tagline created by the agency when it won the business in 1986: "The best care in the air." The effort will air on A&E, CNBC, CNN, ESPN and the Weather Channel, among others.

This is the third consecutive year the airline, which mostly targets business travelers with its first-class-level amenities at competitive coach-class prices, has aired a national cable campaign. Before 1997, the airline concentrated mostly on spot TV, including a 1995 effort in Omaha that starred investor extraordinaire Warren Buffett.

The reason for the shift to cable was that Midwest Express discovered it had locked up strong market share in hub markets and was gaining most of its new passengers from destination markets.


"We have a very high level of awareness in our key originating markets of Milwaukee, Omaha and Kansas City, but we're finding a lot of our growth is coming from the other end of the trip," said Jim Reichart, director of advertising.

The airline, which has grown to 46 destinations from about 30 three years ago, also found it was serving a large enough portion of the U.S. to make a national cable buy cost-effective.

In addition, national ads give the airline increased awareness among potential investors, Mr. Reichart said.

The new spots focus on Midwest's vaunted amenities, which include free champagne and meals the airline says cost an average of $11 per person, $7 more than the industry average.

The ads "really try to show the difference in total travel experience of Midwest Express vs. the other airlines," said Brenda Skelton, senior VP-marketing.

One spot features a business traveler as he navigates through crowds and luggage carts on his way from car to airplane.

"The journey's easier when you have something to look forward to -- like the journey," voice-over says.

The 15-year-old airline, which has its roots as a corporate jet service owned by

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