SJS Press October 2010

When United and Continental airlines announced their merger this Fall, there were few surprises. The rumors of the deal had long been afloat and it was just a matter of time until the announcement would be broadcast. However, one detail came as a shock to all. The Press elaborates.

CrazyGlennUnited Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton had become legendary for his crazy advertising schemes prior to the merger. Some thought he went completely looney and his vacation earlier this year was really a trip to a padded cell at the West Wacker Institute. When it was announced that Tilton would lead the branding and marketing efforts of the new United, customers and employees alike were baffled.

True to his style, Tilton wasted no time implementing his ideas for the merged airline. He would keep the United name while preserving the Continental logo. Like the costs of its labor, the new United's look would be done on the cheap. Tilton explains in a board meeting "All we have to do is buy a decal for the Continental planes and let the tulip wilt as the current United planes head to the desert."

Onlookers had expected a brand new look and feel to the merged airlines. One customer states "Seeing the Continental globe alongside the United name is really awkward. It takes time for it to register in my head. It's sort of confusing." When confronted about his strategy, Tilton responded "This style of marketing is what I call brand confusion. It's a highly effective way to exploit two brands for one entity. This way we can carry any past benefits of each brand into the future."

Not everyone agreed with the United executive. After keeping mum about the whole branding ordeal, Continental CEO Jeff Smisek finally spoke out. "Glenn really got on my last nerve with his latest idea. Here I am fibbing away that this merger is a merger of equals and he continues to cheapen the whole situation. I like the premise of saving money by not having to paint our airplanes, but this 'brand confusion' may be detrimental. If we needed to save money, we could3times just force concessions on our employees. That's why they work for us afterall."

Smisek pointed out that this wasn't the first time Mr. Tilton had tried the strategy. "Poor Glenn. He tried this two times before for other major corporations and it didn't work. So when he decided to do it again, I was miffed."

Tilton disagrees. "Brand confusion takes time. My previous work wasn't granted that time. It will work the the new United Airlines for sure. At this point, I'm not giving anyone a choice!"

tiltonartThe Press was curious if the branding disputes between Smisek and Tilton would tarnish their relationship. Smisek declares "There's nothing further from the truth. It's like art. When I first met Glenn, I was skeptical of him. I thought he was nuts with all his marketing and cost saving ideas, but after awhile he grew on me. I began to see him in a new light and admired him for what he is." The Press agrees with Smisek. Glenn Tilton truly is a piece of work.

And what did Mr. Tilton think of all this? "Oh, me and Jeffy. We're just like an old married couple. We've had our fair share of disagreements, but in the end we're always there for each other. We've been through an amazing journey combining United and Continental into one airline. From keeping our merger in the closet for several years to defending our branding methods. It's been a lovely ride."

Writers at The Press could hardly keep from rolling their eyes at Tilton's comments. It wasn't until he signed on to star in a major Hollywood production about a merger with Smisek's Continental, that The Press took him seriously. A Press representative explains "This goes beyond SJS; Shiny Jet Syndrome. These two aren't just passionate about jets. They're passionate about each other."

SJS Press

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