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What can Steven Slater learn from a pillow fight onboard Lufthansa August 14, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Airlines, Aviation, Conversations, Marketing, Travel.
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Flight attendants are very much in the news these days.

This year belongs to Steven Slater, a JetBlue flight attendant who after an altercation with a passenger on an aircraft that had just landed at New York’s JFK International Airport, announced via the in-flight intercom that he was quitting his job and hurled profanities at the passenger who provoked him. He then grabbed a beer, activated the aircraft’s emergency chute and bolted off the plane.

While many are hailing Mr. Slater as a ‘working-class hero’ for standing up against an unruly customer & walking away from an ‘unpleasant’ situation, his otherwise social media-open and transparent former employer is forced to remain silent as this matter is under investigation. Mr. Slater looks certain to benefit from his newfound fame as an ‘air rager’ and there are calls for JetBlue to take him back to the skies. Personally, I believe he shouldn’t be allowed to do so.

Being a flight attendant is a tough and demanding job that requires immaculate stress management and people handling skills beyond the veneer of a smiling and glamorous exterior. Needless to say, cabin crew are the human face of the airline to the flying public. How they conduct themselves plus how they treat passengers in the skies and on the ground reflects the general service attitude of the airline to the world. 20 odd years into the job, it doesn’t bode well for me to have Mr. Slater on my flight losing his top and bolting off the aircraft like a renegade general.

Cut to the story of this inspiring Lufthansa flight attendant who is now the star of an emerging YouTube viral video titled ‘LH 687 – The endless dispute between the French and the Germans’.

A hilarious pillow flight broke out recently on a Lufthansa flight bound to Frankfurt from Tel Aviv. A German cabin crew was handing out complimentary pillows to Economy Class passengers when pillows were thrown back at her. Not one to be cowed down, she joined in the fun and threw back pillows at the passengers (a group of French tourists). In the 42-second clip, the stewardess can be seen dashing for the safety of her curtain as the hail of pillows intensifies. A passenger recorded a video of this funny pillow fight that ended with rounds of applause for the flight attendant for being a sport. The video is becoming a hit and there is overall appreciation for the flight attendant and the fliers for bringing some light-heartedness into flying.

A Lufthansa spokeswoman later said that the airline is laughing along with everyone else. “It’s an example of passengers enjoying themselves in economy class. And it shows we still offer pillows to our passengers in economy class,” she said.

The lesson to be learnt from this experience is simple. Mass brands such as airlines that come in close contact with human situations that are odd, impromptu, unpredictable or challenging need to be spontaneous, creative, positive, calm and responsive in a professional manner, on the go.

In today’s age of social media, judgments and opinions are formed and shared before corporations or brands can react. Hence, forget about controlling the message. Note the positive spin Lufthansa is giving to the whole incident. Kudos to them for this smart marketing plug in and not going for the staid and natural corporate measure of punishing the flight attendant. Today’s ‘age of social’ demands that we remain constantly on our guard displaying our best social behavior, no matter what the situation. Mr. Steven Slater and his kind can certainly learn a lot from this pillow fight onboard Lufthansa 687.


Great Blogosphere Finds-1 May 13, 2008

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Conversations, Digital, Social Media, Travel.
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1 comment so far
Candles, originally uploaded by [ changó ].

Noah Brier’s Brandtags is a very interesting project (hat tip to Tangerine Toad) that not only lets you tell the world what you think of a brand but also learn what others tag the brand as (quite useful if you are in advertising).

It’s one of those addictive fun apps to power your day, like FreeRice. I said “OK” to UPS, “Understanding” to Toyota (understanding in two planes – understanding the community – Toyota has strong CSR initiatives in Oman & understanding the consumer – Toyota globally innovates and brings out different vehicles targeted at different audiences) and “Uhm awesome” to JetBlue (the uhm coming in after reading a Yahoo! Story on a JetBlue passenger forced to ride in an airline loo).

My suggestions to Noah: Can we have region-specific Brandtags? For example, I’d like to know what consumers think of regional airlines in the Middle East… The IPL cricket teams in India and so on. And may be, a lot of merchandise on the concept of brand tags? Also, I think a cool-tool on the home page which tells you what brands are featured… that one needs to be nimble & smart as the no. of brands will keep exponentially growing in time.

David Armano talks about ‘microinteractions and direct engagement in 2.0 world while Harker Research tells us that microinteractions are best captured by radio.

Every second spent in viewing Apple’s PC & Mac ads is a thoroughly interesting experience. These ads are so creative, funny & entertaining that it’s hard to pick a favourite – but I’ll go for “Pep Rally“. Click here to view all 30 plus of them.

Mack Collier discusses the evolution of social media tools & technologies from 2005 to the future. He says that soc media apps that facilitate connections leading to relationships will be successful.

Bloggers on the Power 150 blog-ranking index tell us what technology marketers should be paying most attention to in 2008. Video, micro-blogging and search marketing get the biggest shout-outs.

Launching Your Startup – PR and Social Media Strategies. A very informative podcast series featuring Neil Vineberg, Matt Dickman, CK, Jyri Engeström and Adam Metz.

JetBlue’s been creating a little buzz on the Web with Happy Jetting. Tangerine Toad suggested a few ways they could improve their web experience. I flew them in April and found their service, in-flight entertainment and even their ads appealing. Today, Yahoo had a story in its home-page that kind of undoes all the great work.

In the wake of the recent Dove Real Beauty ad retouching controversy, Ad Age’s Jonah Bloom talks about how Dove & Ogilvy have a long way to go to be recognized as true WOM proponents.

Dubai cabbie shows the world that honesty is still the best policy.

Astronaut Dr. Scott Parazynski says how risks and success go hand in hand.

Is it time for me to consider Sauvignon Blanc over Chardonnay?

Again, an interesting NYT read on the fascinating mind of a wine drinker.

Yummy clip of Mr. Beanbastic

Is it time to phase out the creative function? Joseph Jaffe believes that the “traditional specialist” is out and “the creative generalist” is in. A great brief for those looking for a kick in the pants in ad biz.

Interesting findings from ArabianBusiness.com Travel Survey 2008

  • Gulf residents are among world’s most traveled – 4 out of 5 travel to at least 2 countries in a year
  • Saudi Arabian residents are the Gulf’s most frequent global travelers, 4.65% of visit 21 or more countries in a year; Omanis most likely to travel to between two and five countries
  • Saudis spend the most on travel
  • Kuwaitis spend most on their vacations
  • Emirates is the most preferred airline
  • Culture, sightseeing and comfort for the family are the most important facets of a vacation for Gulf travelers
  • People in Qatar take the longest holidays UAE-ites vacation for the shortest period
  • Almost three quarters of frequent flyers are unwilling to pay extra for airlines using greener fuels
  • Business travellers are key to airline profitability