Exercise illuminates planning process

In this special report, seven media planning operations have created a phase one media plan for a fictitious client, Executive Airlines.The idea is to show how the media planning process works through a simulated real-life exercise.Each of the companies - five...

In this special report, seven media planning operations have created a phase one media plan for a fictitious client, Executive Airlines.

The idea is to show how the media planning process works through a simulated real-life exercise.

Each of the companies – five in Toronto and one each in Montreal and Vancouver – was provided with a detailed brief outlining the client’s marketing case history (see left.)

They were told the client’s director of marketing was placing top priority on the media plan and would like to see examples of so-called ‘value-added’ ideas.

Each media planning operation was alloted one full page to state its case.

In addition, Strategy asked a cross-section of media sellers, plus event marketing, public relations and sales promotion agencies to pretend they had been ‘leaked’ a copy of the Executive Airlines brief.

Each was invited to come up with one great, unconventional idea illustrating how Executive Airlines could use its medium in a way that would provide true added value.

The submissions, each identified with an airplane motif, start on the next page and continue to page 37.

The company

executive Airlines was formed two years ago by four senior airline executives, all of whom had previously worked at both major airlines in the country – Canadian Airlines International and Air Canada.

The company is 100% Canadian-owned and has its headquarters in Toronto.

It was financed by some of the leading figures in Canadian business.

The product

Executive Airlines, a niche market airline aimed exclusively at the business traveller, is offering flights only between Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver.

The Executive Airlines fleet consists of Boeing 727s that have been remodelled to cater to the needs and expectations of the business traveller.

In fact, all services developed by the airline have been specially created with this customer in mind.

There is only one seating class in the airplanes.

Seats have been designed to give a feeling of space and comfort. Each seat is equipped with a telephone, an individual television monitor and the latest in seat-adjustment technology.

One of the in-flight services typical of the special treatment that travellers receive is a series of video seminars available through each video monitor.

They feature taped sessions from important conferences around the world featuring leading international authorities speaking about important issues that have business ramifications.

Other services include:

- in-flight secretarial help

- fax machines

- a concierge

- the latest financial papers

Also, ground services have been arranged to help in providing quick and easy access to airplanes.

In addition, special arrangements have been made to provide comfortable waiting areas that foster an atmosphere conducive to making acquaintances.

One of the more subtle, but nonetheless important selling propositions of Executive Airlines is the networking opportunities that flights provide.

Corporate update

All flights and airport approvals have been secured and the fleet is almost ready for air. The airline is being launched in the fall of 1993.

Executive Airlines is now in the process of putting together a marketing services team. It has its own marketing department, which is a very lean group.

The director of marketing is 35 years old and not mba-trained. She is bright, hard-working and open-minded.

She spent the past year in a senior position with Air Canada, and before that worked in various marketing functions in service industries.

She has learned about marketing on the job and prides herself that she does not take conventional wisdom for granted.

The category

About 70% to 80% of all business travel in Canada takes place along the routes that Executive Airlines has chosen.

Therefore, the airline is aiming to take market share directly from the major airlines.


Executive Airlines is offering regular service between the four cities.

It will concentrate on early morning and late evening flights to service peak demand, and will package special same-day return trip deals.

Flights are priced lower than the major airlines’ first class, but slightly more than business class seats.

Target group

All business travellers.

The Challenge

Obviously, Executive Airlines’ marketing budget is significantly less than that of the majors.

Canadian and Air Canada each spend between $20 million and $30 million annually, with most of this expenditure in highly visible mass media.

Executive Airlines has set aside a budget of about $4 million for its first year, including the launch.

So, Executive Airlines recognizes that it will need some exceptional, creative thinking in its media plan.

The airline believes its smaller size relative to the major airlines could be a competitive advantage if its smallness were used to impart a sense of exclusivity and to create an image of a highly personal, service-oriented, almost boutique airline.

One example of how such a positioning was successfully achieved, in the airline’s mind, is that of American Express and how it managed to capture an image of exclusivity for its Green Card.

The marketing department has come up with a working theme-line for an ad campaign of: ‘Business is Up.’

However, Executive Airlines is not necessarily thinking of a big traditional media buy.

In fact, the marketing director is particularly interested in ideas on how to use media outside of the conventional magazines, television, radio and newspapers.

She would love to see examples of so-called ‘added value’ ideas.

What the client wants

You are one of several media firms that have been asked to submit a phase one proposal.

As was already mentioned, the client’s mind is wide open. There are no pre-conceived ideas. The airline wants to see the kind of thinking that is available in the media planning and buying community.

In fact, Executive Airlines is placing No. 1 priority on the media plan, and is, therefore, taking the unorthodox step of searching for a media service as a first step in assembling its marketing services team.

A creative supplier and subsequent creative execution will be made to fit into the media plan.

The client wants to see creative media concepts and ideas, not gross rating points at this stage.

The client assumes the companies that have been invited into this pitch have the necessary people and facilities to execute a competent media buy.

Really, all the client wants to see is a strategic plan – ideas and


The text of submissions from the following media planning organizations:

Harrison, Young, Pesonen & Newell Inc. Page18

Scali, McCabe, Sloves Page25

Initiative Media Page 27

Cossette Media Page 28

Stratžgem Media Investment Page 30

BSB Page 33 and

Publicitž MBS Page 34

which appeared in the March 8th Media Planning Challenge is not available in the on-line data base.