Insights for Destination & Leisure Marketers

3 Reasons Why American Airlines’ New Tagline Sucks

A recent article in the New York Times discussed American Airlines’ latest ad campaign, which is anchored with the tagline “Going for Great.” I understand what they’re trying to do. They’re being humble and honest by saying, “hey, we know we’re not great yet, but we’re working to achieve greatness.” And that is a very smart strategy for appealing to today’s travelers, who tend to respond positively to brand transparency. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that “Going for Great” sucks as a tagline. Here’s why:

  1. The word ‘great’ is the most overused word in advertising. Maybe small businesses with minimal advertising budgets can get away with it (barely). But a major U.S. airline with a multi-million dollar budget can and should do better.
  2. It’s about the brand, not the consumer. The article compares “Going for Great” with Delta’s “Keep Climbing.” The latter is clearly better. It says, we’re going up, and you’re coming with us. “Going for great” just says we’re trying to go up. Hey, I bet you can think of a brand who did a much better job of communicating this back in the 60’s:airline advertising strategy
  3. They are making the wrong improvements. The improvements “Going for Great” touts – first-class seats that lie flat, number of departure flights from major cities, and easy check-in – aren’t the real issues that American Airlines needs to be addressing. People are upset with American, and airlines in general, because of their poor management of schedules, exorbitant prices (both generally speaking and for simple itinerary changes), missed connections, lost luggage, and other operational issues that would require a lot of time and money to fix. Perhaps they are on it. If they are, those are the changes they should talk about first. The airline that does this, wins. Period. These two tweets, the only non-brand posts that aren’t using #GoingforGreat to trump their personal accomplishments, pretty much sum it up:  airline advertising strategy