Air Wars: Kingfisher strikes again

By Khushboo Tanna , afaqs!, Mumbai | In OOH News | April 27, 2009
Kingfisher has taken yet another potshot at its competitors with a new outdoor campaign

The month of April seems to bring out the mischief in Kingfisher. It has, for the third consecutive year, released a campaign in the summer (vacation time, if you must), which makes a dig at other carriers. This time, low-cost carriers such as IndiGo are on the receiving end.

Take off

In April 2007, Jet Airways had an image makeover and had released an outdoor campaign that stated, 'We have changed.' Kingfisher placed a hoarding above that which read, 'We made them change'.

Exactly a year later, when Jet Airways put up outdoor hoardings for JetLite that said, 'Our smile lights up 502 flights to go over 50 cities every day' with pictures of their smiling staff; Kingfisher didn't let go of that opportunity either. Soon, Air Deccan (now Kingfisher Red) put up its hoarding right next JetLite's, which said, 'We'd rather you smile', with pictures of their smiling customers.


This time, Kingfisher has taken a dig at low-cost carriers through its outdoor campaign. The hoarding is divided into two sides. The left side says, 'Go Degraded', while the right side, painted in red, says, 'Fly Upgraded.' Similarly, another hoarding has 'Indi-ginity' on one side, while the other side says 'Respect,' obviously a claim on the level of professionalism at Kingfisher Airlines. A third one says 'Indi-fferent' on one side, and 'Different' on the Kingfisher side. Even the font style for the words on the left is similar to what's used by IndiGo in its logo.

The hoardings have been put up at various locations and similar print ads will be released soon. An LED display screen at Marine Drive in Mumbai has been taken up, where a flash film of the creatives would be run for a period of one month. The branding will also be seen on Meru cabs in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi and Hyderabad.

Apart from that, there will be radio spots on some FM stations across markets. A digital campaign will also be rolled out, with banners on various websites.

Nisha Singhania, executive vice-president, Rediffusion -Y&R, Mumbai says that this is a tactical campaign to reflect market sentiments. She says, "Due to the slowdown, a lot of people who used to fly business class have started flying economy; and those who used to fly economy have shifted to other low-cost airlines." That would explain why digs are being taken at low-cost carriers. However, Singhania clarifies that there was no intention to refer to any specific low-cost carrier, but only to highlight the facilities provided by Kingfisher.

A senior executive, who is closely related to the development, says that the campaign is aimed at retaining old customers, as well as adding new customers. He also adds that Kingfisher is a young and irreverent brand, so it can get away with such tongue-in-cheek advertising. In a sense, it's becoming like the Sprite of the airline category.

Rough landing?

afaqs! decided to find out how the competitors are reacting to the latest dig from the Kingfisher stable.

Sanjay Kumar, chief commercial officer, IndiGo says he does not want to comment on this issue. However, industry experts feel that this issue can be viewed from two perspectives. One set of people feel that other low-cost airlines should be happy, as Kingfisher considers them as direct competition. However, a second set of people feel that Kingfisher has brought itself down to the level of other low-cost airlines.

Jagdeep Kapoor, chairman and managing director, Samsika Marketing Consultants, says that brands should focus on the consumer rather than competition, because when it starts focusing on the competitor, some part of the consumer's attention goes to the competitor as well. "Ads should attract, not distract," says Kapoor.

Since Kingfisher, as a brand, is seen in a particularly luxurious light, one wonders if taking such digs at the competition is truly required. "Till the time you are a challenger, you can take the tongue-in-cheek approach. But once you feature among the top brands, people look up to the brand, and hence, it should stay away from all this," states Kapoor. In the case of Sprite, he says, it is acceptable, as it is a challenger brand.

© 2009 afaqs!