Canadian plans fall campaign

Now that Canadian Airlines International has finally made it to the altar with American Airlines, the Calgary-based carrier is looking forward to a public celebration in the form of a new consumer ad campaign.But just as Canadian's equity sale to American...

Now that Canadian Airlines International has finally made it to the altar with American Airlines, the Calgary-based carrier is looking forward to a public celebration in the form of a new consumer ad campaign.

But just as Canadian’s equity sale to American was a long time in coming, the new ad campaign is not likely to kick off for another several months.

Laurie Schild, Canadian’s manager of news services, reveals the carrier is in the midst of testing ‘a few concepts right now.’

However, Schild says Canadian will hold off launching any major new marketing initiatives until fall because the airline’s planes ‘fly full in the summer’ without the support of expensive media buys.

Schild says Canadian, with the assistance of its ad agency, Chiat/Day of Toronto, is developing a new corporate positioning statement to serve as a foundation for future advertising.

She says the company feels it is ‘entering a whole new chapter in its history’ now that the highly publicized financial and legal problems it faced over the last few years have been largely resolved.

Among its troubles: Canadian teetered on the brink of bankruptcy, a state brought on by a lengthy price war with arch-rival Air Canada; agreed to an equity sale to American Airlines, and then fought with government regulators to have the deal approved; and extracted itself from a contract with the Genesis ticketing system so it could join the Sabre system, owned by American.

Schild says that with those distractions behind it, the airline wants to ‘get back to being a customer-driven business and doing what we do best.’

While declining to be specific, she says the new corporate theme-line will capture and convey that desire of the airline.

‘I think you’re going to see a whole fresh, new approach,’ Schild says.

Canadian has been without a corporate theme-line for the past year and a half, ever since it dropped ‘The Dawn of Civilized Air Travel.’

‘Civilized’ was adopted in February 1991 at the time Canadian began operating out of the then newly opened Terminal 3 at Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport.

The tag was coined by Chiat Day, which had won the airline’s estimated $20-million ad account only a few months before.

Schild explains ‘Civilized’ was pulled because it was felt to be inappropriate in light of the highly charged public and political battles that were being fought between Canadian and Air Canada.

On April 27, Canadian announced the official sale of 20% of its shares to American.

As part of the deal, Canadian has entered a 20-year services agreement with American.

Under the terms of the services agreement, Canadian will link up with American’s Sabre computerized ticket management system and implement American’s proprietary data systems in most areas of its internal operations.

Canadian will also continue to build on two joint marketing initiatives it launched with American last year.

One of the initiatives is a frequent flyer point sharing program that enables flyers to redeem their Canadian points with American, and vice-versa.

The other program, Throughfare, which was created for customers who would begin a journey on Canadian from a point in Canada and switch to American, while at a Canadian airport, to complete the trip in the u.s.

Under Throughfare, customers need buy only one ticket that combines both airlines’ fares.