afaqs!

SpiceJet and Indigo - More than discount brands?

By Devina Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | February 07, 2011
The category of low cost airlines, till even two years ago, was completely commoditised. A low-cost airline was characterized as one with cheap fares undercutting its competitor and ruling the arena. Things became hotter for the existing players when Jet and Kingfisher also jumped onto the bandwagon.

The category of low cost airlines, till even two years ago, was completely commoditised. A low-cost airline was characterized as one with cheap fares undercutting its competitor and ruling the arena. Things became hotter for the existing players when Jet and Kingfisher also jumped onto the bandwagon.

The good part of 2009 was that during the economic slowdown, even corporate executives used to flying regular airlines, were induced to try a SpiceJet or Indigo, but this wasn't enough. The two brands had to ensure the larger players in this segment don't walk away with the cake.

2010 saw SpiceJet move away from being 'the cheap ticket airline' to one that offers a value proposition.

'Get more when you fly' was the campaign idea arrived at in 2009 and the brand took it forward in 2010 with a series of four ads each highlighting one aspect of the airline beyond the obvious price point one - great return fares, web check in (the couple ad), taking care of unaccompanied minors, and on-time performance. These ads ran from January to June. The attempt was clear - branding, but without indulging in category clichés such as clouds, the sky, sun, pretty airhostesses providing blankets to passengers and so on.

In November, Spicejet took this further with the 'fresh food on board' ad that showed a tired housewife whipping up a meal for her husband at an obscure hour as he arrives by flight. Food is a big thing for Indians and a cold sandwich is often what they are greeted with in low cost airlines. Spicejet changed its menu to hot Indian meals, and the ad once again showed how the brand offers a little more than your average low-cost carrier.

Another brand that tried to change inhibitions regarding low cost carriers was Indigo. As an airline, Indigo emphasised three factors: on-time performance, a hassle-free experience while booking and constant low fares without gimmicks. However, the brand, like many others, fell prey to the category perception of being a 'cheap' way to fly.

Indigo countered this with several on-board initiatives such as tongue-in-cheek messages on its unique food packaging, or even funny messages on its boarding ramp such as 'Here comes the hotstepper'. Indigo too didn't want to go for the typical advertising modus operandi, and came up with the 'on-time performance' ad that showcased all the elements that go behind Indigo's timely performance, from its engineers, pilots, even chefs and ground staff, everything comes together in a synchronised way to deliver the 'clockwork' situation. Print ads were also released to this effect.

Indigo even tried to do tongue-in-cheek initiatives like e-mailers and other digital creatives to pull its competition apart. For instance, one of its e-mailers to corporate went 'Let the bad times roll', a not-so-subtle dig at Kingfisher's 'Let the good times roll'.

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