SJS Press March 2010

Something has gone awry at the company labeled the country's worst airline. Cities in clouds, insect airplanes, cartoon worlds. In an attempt to ease the pain of its passengers, United Airlines has tried to put them in la la land through its unorthodox advertising. Confusing ads have been posted at all United's major hubs RJevolved such as Washington Dulles and Chicago O'hare. The Press at interviewed frequent flyers that have passed through these hubs. One passenger says "I don't get it. Granted I would rather rather fly on a butterfly, but I don't think a regional jet comes even close. What audience are they trying to sell flights to?"

Some travelers welcome the ads. "I'm used to it," a business woman stated. "The planes are dirty, bags get lost, and the flight attendants are rude. Actually just plane vicious. Heck, I'm not going on a flight. I'm being taken hostage. So anything they can do to make me feel like Dorothy so I can click my heels and go home is fine by me."

And it isn't just the customers who weighed in on United's ad strategy. Under the condition of remaining anonymous, one former employee confessed of his experiences at the corporated headquarters. "...It must have been in the air. I was a straight shooting, rookie MBA ready to get my feet wet. JustsaynoHowever, shortly after I started, I found myself wearing tye dye shirts and bell bottoms to work. My coworkers and I would have these brainstorming sessions where we would come up with our visions of how flying should be. We wanted our airline to carry passengers on colorful butterflies and magic carpets. We certainly separated our department from reality, but from what I remember it was a mind blowing experience. I can only imagine what goes on there these days."

TiltonandfriendAfter our interview, we began to wonder as well. Word on the street revealed that the party has not even come close to stopping. Stories of CEO Glenn Tilton sharing ideas with a smoking caterpillar have become part of United lore. It is during these wacky tobacky sessions where Tilton is thought to have approved psychedelic advertising campaigns. Although the caterpillar purportedly came up with the crack idea of shrinking United into profitability, an insider has told The Press that it was strictly a Tilton creation.

Many concerns have circulated over the future of United's marketing. Will it continue on its course to complete insanity? Or will it begin to take on a more right minded appeal? Perhaps United will merge with another carrier and take that sensible approach. Regardless of what lies ahead for United, The Press can only ponder one question. What ever happened to the friendly skies?


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