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The New US Airways Missed WOM Opportunity

As part of the merger between US Airways and America West airlines announced in November last year (2005), they had an intriguing new decision to make about the beverage brands that they served on their flights.  America West had Pepsi and Budweiser, US Airways had Coke and Miller.  Over the past decade, both brands in each category have ruthlessly attacked each other head to head in a battle to convince consumers of their superiority.  And many consumers are die-hard passionate about which brand they choose, and why the new combined airline should choose one or the other.  Some newspapers around the time of the merger announcement even conducted their own contests

But what a missed opportunity for two airlines that desperately need to generate to some positive publicity and connect with consumers (like most airlines in the beaten up travel industry).  What better setup than to have a choice like this and encourage your consumers to help make it for you?  If they had launched an online contest, asking people to vote for their favourites, they would have offered a voice to the thousands and perhaps even millions that have a strong preference.  Get them to vote, ask them to publicize the contest, and even give them branded assets to use on their blogs and forums to invite more people to vote.  Given the subject for the contest, it could have become a hugely successful word of mouth promotion, publicizing the new merged airline to a huge worldwide audience. Maybe the four brands could even have participated to drive their consumer base to get out and vote – make this a real showdown.  Unfortunately, the moment has come and gone, and perhaps the merged airline has already quietly made their choice (though I couldn’t find what it was, given a quick internet search).  What a wasted opportunity …

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Rohit is the author of 9 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.


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