There can be no doubt that Singapore Airlines is one of the best airlines in the world; and it is one of my personal favourites to fly with. With SQ, you know that you will always have one of the best experiences possible in the air, especially if you are lucky enough to be travelling in business or first-class.
Which is why I was a little disappointed in the new Singapore Airlines campaign when I first saw it. Not because it wasn’t well crafted or thought-through, just that it was a bit…expected. It doesn’t really elevate the airline to the premier position that it should hold in its own industry—and as the global Asian airline to travel with.
Other airlines look to Singapore Airlines with envy, so why diminish this with a campaign that talks about the lengths that we go to? Movies from European Film Festivals, leather from Scotland and the finest tea from China…all delivered through the more relaxed and approachable Singapore Airlines Girl, with her lofty locks flowing down her back.
Bah. What a bore. This could be any airline. What business class doesn’t have leather seats? Who doesn’t serve specialty teas? And most now offer the latest films through their inflight entertainment systems. (Unless of course you are flying with a no-frills budget airline where you need to pay for a tablet or rely on that old-fashioned thing made from thin slices of a tree called a book.)
I want more from Singapore Airlines! I want Singapore Airlines to stand for something, something more than it is, something that makes it stand out in the crowd, something to be proud of. What ever happened to those great big disruptive\ ideas that TBWA\ used to hang its hat on? Remember that old thing about building ownable equity in your brand, something that only you can own? The agency’s work with Pedigree's 'We love dogs' really showed these qualities. As did Apple’s 'Think different', which asked us to reassess what our computing needs really are, and what we should expect from a computer: not a glorified calculator, but a creative tool. This approach defined superior brands. Why apply it to some clients and not others?
Or maybe Singapore Airlines could take some cues from Honda, which has done a lot for thought leadership in its category, changing the dynamics of the industry. Work like the brand's UK campaign for diesel engines—'(Grrr) Hate something…Change something'—has set them apart from other car manufacturers.
After just coming off a long-haul flight with British Airways from Singapore to London (where I actively chose not to fly with Singapore Airlines, to see what the competitors were up to) I can say with absolute certainty that BA staff do not “Fly to Serve”, in actual fact they go out of their way to stay out of your way, even in business. They overpromise and underdeliver. Unlike Singapore Airlines, who in my humble opinion underpromise and overdeliver in comparison.
I want Singapore Airlines to stand tall and proud, make me choose it for all the right reasons, not so it can, as the campaign slightly nauseatingly says “make me feel at home”. Did the airline simply forget that we have just left home and are really looking forward to a few hours of escapism with no emails, texts or phone calls? It is the sanctuary in the sky that is attractive, and Singapore Airlines does it better than anyone else. Sorry I want more.
It is only because I love this airline above all others, that I want it to set the standard of communications in its category, be bolder. Actually I demand this. Be brave, stand out and maybe if you start to tell everyone exactly how great you are you will stay on top of the pile for just that little bit longer, give your staff something to be proud of, and get us all excited about flying with you again and not straying off to the competition just because we can.
Singapore Airlines you are a great way to fly. Now just find a great way to communicate this!
Allan Fraser-Rush is global planning director based in Lowe Singapore. He is also visiting professor in marketing and communications at Northampton University, UK.