TV Focus ’93: Chiat recaps CAI plan

Faced with a massive fiscal crisis, an austerity regime and markedly negative press late last year, what Canadian Airlines International needed badly was a major tv campaign, said Ira Matathia, president of Chiat/ Day Advertising in Toronto.Matathia, speaking March 11 as...

Faced with a massive fiscal crisis, an austerity regime and markedly negative press late last year, what Canadian Airlines International needed badly was a major tv campaign, said Ira Matathia, president of Chiat/ Day Advertising in Toronto.

Matathia, speaking March 11 as part of a panel at TV Focus ’93, said cai’s business and monthly tracking research were difficult to read definitively, but the data indicated some disturbing trends.

TV Focus ’93, which was held at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto, was presented by The Television Bureau of Canada, The Canadian Association of Broadcast Representatives and Canada’s Commercial Television Broadcasters.

Matathia said most troubling for the company was cai’s share of airline traffic was in decline for the first time in two years.

Following qualitative findings that seemed to suggest consumer confidence, too, was waning, Chiat/Day decided to conduct attitudinal research among cai’s most loyal clients – Canadian Plus frequent flyer members.

Commitment

According to Matathia, the research uncovered a disturbing softening of commitment to cai among Canadian Plus members.

Calgary-based cai is Chiat/ Day’s second-largest client.

Matathia said that, based on the evidence, the agency decided cai needed a major tv campaign that would talk directly to travelers about the airline.

‘As we began exploring potential strategic solutions, we discovered that people were rooting for the airline largely based on the commitment of the 20,000 people who work for the carrier.

‘Clearly, their commitment was seen as the critical ingredient in ensuring our future. So it became clear that employees should be front and centre in communication that attempted to reassure flyers about our long-term prospects,’ said Matathia.

Continuing with this line of inquiry, Chiat/Day discovered the passion and commitment of employees were compelling, and that featuring the employees in advertising was a significant morale booster for the staff at large, he said.

Idea

What the agency did, Matathia, continued, was approach the CTV Television Network when the advertising idea was embryonic. ctv then provided the production expertise, editorial capacity and broadcast clearance to make the campaign possible.

The campaign consisted of a new spot every day for two weeks, shot, edited, integrated and aired on the same day.

Remarkable cost

‘We were able to deliver 14 original spots at remarkable cost – no, I won’t reveal the number – but I will tell you that it would compare favorably with comparable costs for 14 print ads,’ said Matathia.

Chiat/Day’s needs for the campaign – market coverage, single-source material trafficking, and a targeted media environment – were met by the network, said Chiat/Day’s vice-president and media director David Cairns, who was also a member of the TV Focus panel.

The third member of the three-person panel was Laurie Schild, cai’s marketing communications manager.

‘The entire process, from initial discussion with ctv to air date, including Christmas, New Year’s and weekends, was 30 days,’ said Cairns, noting ‘the media buy was booked on Christmas Eve, just eight working days ahead of air date.’

The campaign generated an 11% upswing in top-of-mind awareness, Cairns said, adding that 78% of the people who recalled the advertising came away with the impression the airline was making positive changes and improvements.

A further example of the campaign’s effectiveness, continued Cairns, was that the number of travelers who said they would fly with cai rose seven percentage points, while those who said they would fly with Air Canada dropped 3%.

And market share for cai rose almost one point between December and January, he adds.