Show Don’t Tell: Good Marketing Isn’t about Irrelevant Messages

As you probably know, I live in Cincinnati, and the Cincinnati airport CVG has had the highest fares in the nation.  Yes, the most expensive airport to fly from in America has been Cincinnati, an airport that is dominated by Delta.  Flights on average are 28% more than the national average.

The good news for those living in Cincinnati is that there are a number of other airports nearby, and many travelers regularly drive an hour to an hour and a half to save hundreds of dollars by flying out of Dayton, Columbus, Lexington or Indiana.

I rarely fly out of CVG (the Cincinnati airport) any more because there are few direct flights and it is extremely expensive.

Think CVG First

When I saw this advertising campaign for CVG, I was floored.  The slogan is “think CVG first”.  Everyone does.  Who wouldn’t rather fly out of an airport that is nicer and closer?  Who wouldn’t want to reduce their overall travel time by flying from their home airport? Plus, the newly renovated airport is clean, beautiful, comfortable and has TONS of electrical outlets.

Everyone thinks of CVG first.

The reason that people don’t fly from CVG is because it is so expensive.

They start by searching for flights from CVG and then realize that they can save $200 – $500 by flying from somewhere that is only an hour away.

The high priced airfares have been in the local news for years.

To me, this campaign makes CVG airport seem out of touch.  I am a frequent business traveler, as are many of my friends, and very few travelers regularly fly from CVG.  Not because we don’t think of it, but because there are better schedules at lower prices at airports that aren’t much further away.

I laugh every time I see this campaign because it is so out of touch.

Show Don’t Tell: How CVG Could Address the Issue

If CVG really wanted to show people that they are actually in touch with why people choose other airports they could address the actual issue.  Sure, they don’t control pricing at an airport, and they are probably just as annoyed as we are about flight prices, since high fares means fewer travelers and less revenue for them.  That being said, I’m sure that it would be bad publicity for them to attack the airlines, who are also one of their stakeholders.

Here is what I would do.

Take my pointless advertising budget and say “Hey, we can’t control the price of flights out of the airport, but we share your frustration.  We are taking our ad budget and using it to give you $$ back.”  Give travelers money off of each flight, or a voucher for free food or something…….  Show that you understand the problem and care about it.

Rather than trying to broadcast messages to people, show them that you care about the issue.  Even if you can’t fix it.  Be a champion.

That would win tremendous goodwill in the community.

Think of the PepsiRefresh project – they took the millions that they would have spent on the SuperBowl and instead created a grant program for businesses and community organizations.  They said “rather than spending millions messaging at you, we’ll do something for you”.  They probably generated more media and more impressions from the Refresh project than they would have with a superbowl add.

What do You Think?