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Airline’s New “Fly, Goddamnit” Campaign Not Taking Off

Briefs in a Brief

Chicago ( – Marketing executives from United Airlines said today they are still searching for just the right tone to lure the public back into the skies after their new “Fly, Goddamnit” ad campaign was an immediate failure with consumers.

The television campaign, created by Leo Burnett Worldwide, was meant to piggyback onto United’s previous commercials, in which employees, in touching vignettes, talk about their careers and love of flying. In the new commercials, the employees end these same reminiscences with, “So fly, goddamnit.”

“It’s a classic pitch,” said Leo Burnett USA vice president Herb Comthrock. “We started with the soft sell, created the idea that these are wonderful, caring people that you want to do business with, and now we’re issuing the heartfelt call to action: ‘Fly goddamnit.’ I don’t know why it’s not resonating. Maybe we should have gone with our second choice: ‘Fly You Bastards.’”

Privately, United executives say they need to do something soon to counter Southwest Airlines’ popular “What Are Ya, Yellow?” campaign (McCann-Erickson), and Delta’s highly successful “Not on My Watch” campaign (TBWA/Chiat/Day), in which a smiling pilot confidently pats an obvious bulge in his waistband and greets boarding passengers by telling them not to worry.

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