Jetlines protests airline competition from the sky

The ultra low-cost carrier's campaign positions itself as fighting the status quo ahead of going to market later this year.


As it prepares to enter an increasingly competitive Canadian airline market, Jetlines is targeting what it sees as unreasonably high airfare prices and lackluster competition across the industry.

The ultra low-cost carrier has launched a staged protest of Canada’s high fares with a video featuring a team of skydivers partaking in what it calls “Canada’s first protest in the sky.” The spot criticizes the Competition Bureau of Canada for what it sees as its failure to take adequate measures to protect competition in the airline industry, then shows a group of 18 skydivers jumping out of plane holding signs that protest high ticket prices.

One of the divers is shown holding a “Fight back at” sign, inviting users to visit the company’s website where they can sign a petition.

“Flying in Canada is unbelievably expensive thanks to two airlines,” the website claims. “This un-Canadian airline duopoly has successfully inflated ticket prices and suppressed low-fare competitors for decades. Today, they dominate a combined 85% of domestic airline seats in the country, which is why many Canadians can fly overseas for far less than the price of flying home for Christmas.”

The campaign lands as a series of airline acquisitions has sparked renewed interest from analysts on the impact the deals may have on the competitive landscape in Canada. Late last month, leisure airline Air Transat agreed to be acquired by Air Canada for around $520 million, subject to regulatory approvals. News of the deal comes a few months after WestJet, Air Canada’s largest competitor, agreed to be purchased by private equity firm Onex for $3.5 billion.

While several low-cost players have attempted to enter the Canadian market, Jetlines contends that the Competition Bureau has “done little to support new carriers” so far. WestJet has launched a new low-cost carrier called Swoop, while Flair Airlines recently rebranded after having transitioned into a low-cost scheduled service carrier in late 2017.

But in addition to protesting the current environment, Jetlines also hopes to draw attention and raise awareness of its own brand, according to the agency. Katie Ainsworth, ECD at Jetlines AOR Cossette, said that the goal is to position the company “as an airline that isn’t afraid to take on the status quo for its customers.”

Jetlines also worked with Cossette on a new visual identity and its website as it continues trying to draw interest from investors and consumers alike.

“The new visual identity is definitely one of a challenger brand,” Ainsworth wrote in a follow-up email to strategy, “so it’s a natural next step to challenge the aviation industry in Canada. Jetlines looks and feels different from the more conservative and traditional brands in the space. The new identity is a bit cheeky and the range of emoticons within the design system don’t pretend every minute of travel is a pure delight—because flying has a lot of pros and a lot of cons.”

The branding work also involved designing staff uniforms for Jetline employees, from the cabin crew through to the ground staff, pilots and first officers, added Edward Vaughan-Hughes, group account director at Cossette.

The campaign follows the naming of Cossette as Jetlines’ AOR in October last year. Cossette Media is on media duties, with Front + Centre supporting on PR.