Is copying the best form of flattery in airline marketing? Air New Zealand calls out Emirates!

Airline marketing is at its best when competing airlines one-up or call each another out. To launch its Premium Economy class cabin, Emirates released a new marketing video featuring a goose that decides to fly the airline’s new cabin instead of going south with its flock. As you can see below, it was a beautifully executed, very creative spot where the good chooses to “fly better” than its peers.

The only challenge? Air New Zealand did something very similar in 2016! Unsurprisingly, in true Kiwi style, the airline released its own video in response to Emirates and called out the airline for seeking inspiration. Now, watch this spot by Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand totally one-ups Emirates in this video. The remarkable thing about this video is that Air New Zealand released its video within 48 hours of the Emirates spot coming out! How is that for turnaround timing?

When I was writing my book SOAR, I quizzed the Kiwi airline’s CMO about how they can produce ads so quickly. The secret lies in the proximity of Air New Zealand’s agency to the airline’s office. The CMO can literally walk over to the agency, share a brief and they can start working on something that can be pushed out in record time. The airline has made a habit of this and leverages humour and timing very well. Though, is there historical evidence that this technique works? Absolutely.

Scoot called out Spirit on the airline’s marketing being similar

Back in 2015, Scoot noticed that Spirit Airlines was releasing brand assets that were curiously similar to the Singaporean airline – from the brand colours to the advertisement styles. Instead of filing a lawsuit, Scoot produced a video featuring its then CEO, Campbell Wilson, which showed how eerily similar Spirits ads were to Scoot’s.

Scoot didn’t just stop there. It went all out, sending Spirit a brand kit and flying a blimp over its headquarters in Florida. Ultimately, the witty response won Scoot a marketing award. At this point, the airline even sent Spirit a replica of the award. All of this helped Scoot gain a lot of publicity in markets it wouldn’t have been well known in – like Florida.

While copying may be the best form of flattery, when it comes to airline marketing, the airline that calls out another airline ultimately wins. While Emirates is known for original marketing campaigns, it’s surprising their agencies didn’t do their homework on whether the goose campaign has been done by another airline previously. Air New Zealand is the ultimate winner in this battle.