Airport marketing campaigns are a bit bizarre to me in concept, since in most markets you’re pretty much a captive audience, so you don’t need to be reminded to fly out of LAX or DFW or Phoenix Sky Harbor.
And yet airport authorities spend much too much money each year on advertising, leading to such gems as:
- Gatwick, Obviously
- Connecting the Americas (Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport; but how, exactly?)
- I ✈ OAK (Oakland International Airport)
- Easy Come, Easy Go (Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport)
Keep in mind somebody got paid a lot of money to come up with those slogans.
One thing you’ll notice about two of the examples above is that the “official” names of many American airports are unwieldy, to say the least. It’s great that we choose to honor our heroes like John F. Kennedy, or… former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, or an officer in the Spanish-American War, or the former Secretary of Transportation in the George W. Bush administration, or basically any living U.S. ex-President, and hell, maybe their wives too. (Team Hillary, obvi.)
That makes it great for a few civic leaders, but as the names grow longer and unwieldier, terrible for passengers (and signmakers). And in Baltimore’s case, grammarians (so it’s not an international airport, but rather an international Thurgood Marshall airport?).
Atlanta’s ridiculously named Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is in a bit of a bind. Between 1980 and 2003, it was known simply as Hartsfield International Airport, after former mayor William Hartsfield, and in 2003 those who wanted to honor recently deceased former mayor Maynard Jackson (who did, in fairness, lead efforts to get the airport rebuilt in 1980) lobbied to have the airport renamed after him.
Because The South, a lot of people got up in arms about taking Hartsfield’s name off the airport, so the Atlanta City Council just decided to combine the names, giving us the current tongue twister no one uses.
I’ve heard people say “Hartsfield Airport,” though of course those are the same generation of people who say “dungarees” for jeans and “davenport” for a couch. By and large, most people seem to settle on Atlanta Airport, or even just ATL.
And that’s fine! As a society we like abbreviating things. We don’t say Los Angeles International Airport, we say LAX. We don’t say Seattle-Tacoma International Airport; it’s Sea-Tac, and so on.
But again, because Politics, the Atlanta City Council is not happy about this, you guys. To that end, they passed a resolution and stomped their feet up and down and demanded to know why people weren’t calling it “Hartsfield-Jackson,” ordering the Aviation General Manager to somehow make people say “-Jackson.”
Atlanta Hartsfield International Maynard Jackson Airport Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is now spending up to $500k on an advertising campaign to accomplish this. Per WSB Radio:
The recently announced campaign will be rolled out in three phases.
It will include letters and calls to government officials, as well as members of the travel industry and the media.
The airport also plans to hand out buttons, posters and magnets to airport workers to get its point across. Later this year, travelers will see advertisements within the airport itself.
At last, eye-rolling news to come out of the Atlanta Airport that has nothing to do with Delta! (That one’s for you, Ben.)
Some of the $500,000 marketing budget has already gone toward a billboard campaign boasting that ATL was a, quote, “Wold Class” airport. Yes, “wold.”
Clearly, the airport marketing folks are just #winning all across the board today in Atlanta. Maybe they should take marketing cues from their corporate neighbor downtown? But I suspect even Don Draper wants to stay away from this mess.
You stay Wold Classy, Atlanta!