The full-page ad which ran in Singapore daily newspapers The Straits Times and The Business Times yesterday, leads, ‘If tigers were meant to fly, they would be born with wings.’
Followed by ‘Guaranteed to fly everyday!’, this is seen as a direct reference to a recent spate of cancellations at Tiger Airways that left passengers stranded and disgruntled.
With the flight disruption blamed on an apparent pilot shortage, Air Asia launched ads stating ‘We have the stripes to fly’ with the pun on stripes referencing both pilots and tigers.
Air Asia’s charismatic CEO Tony Fernandes said the ads were produced in-house from a budget that is two per cent of sales.
Tiger Airways responded with good grace, thanking its rival for paying for the publicity and driving traffic to its website.
Ng Tian It, Lowe's chief creative officer and global creative director, finds the Air Asia ads a refreshing change from the norm in that segment. "Most airline ads tend to be a bit stiff, this definitely brings a chuckle. Sometimes it's good to have a dig at each other, which is fine so long as it's done in a witty way."
JWT's regional executive creative director Tay Guan Hin tends to agree. "With every competitive advertisement it depends upon how much the rivals can roll with the punches. In this case, I think the tagline is witty, and smart in that it is technically true - tigers can't fly."
But Tay advises caution that adverts directly putting down a rival product can be in bad taste, "in which case they reflect badly on the brand that's doing the criticising."
This is not the first time Air Asia has poked fun at another airline. Highlighting the female cabin crew on its Singapore-Kuala Lumpur route, ads read ‘There’s a new girl in town and she’s twice the fun at half the price’, which was seen as a dig at Singapore Airlines icon the 'Singapore Girl'.
Air Asia also pushed boundaries with outdoor ads promoting destinations in Thailand with the tagline, ‘Cheap enough to say Phuket I’ll go.’