In April it was announced that Alaska would purchase Virgin America in a $2.6 billion deal. Most people seemed to agree that Alaska way overpaid for Virgin America, though as more details emerged, it became clear that there was a bidding war. Ultimately Alaska wanted to keep Virgin America away from JetBlue, since the airline would have become a huge threat to their hometown markets with such a merger, when you combine JetBlue’s East Coast presence with Virgin America’s West Coast presence.
Given that both Alaska and Virgin America are based on the West Coast, they’re marketing themselves as the “premier West Coast airline.” The big question is how the airline will brand itself otherwise.
When the merger was first announced, Alaska’s management had said that the Virgin America brand will cease to exist, with Alaska being the surviving brand. However, they did say that the “Virgin America brand could continue to serve as a role in driving customer acquisition and loyalty.”
Alaska has slowly been learning the value in Virgin America’s brand. While Alaska is a beloved brand in the Pacific Northwest, outside of that it’s largely unknown. A lot of people outside the West Coast assume the airline is based in Alaska, as the name suggests. Meanwhile the Virgin brand has global recognition. Over the past couple of months we’ve learned that Alaska may just keep the Virgin America brand around, though we don’t know in exactly what form.
That’s why I’m fascinated by the video that Alaska just published, entitled “Flying Better Together in San Francisco.” Here’s how the video is described:
Join Alaska Airlines Flight Attendant Khai as he journeys to San Francisco, describing our airline’s expanding role in the Bay Area along the way.
Here’s the video:
My first thought was “huh, Alaska Airlines made this video?!?” This is the least Alaska Airlines video I’ve ever seen, so it shows that they may be coming around and realizing the value in the Virgin America brand.
As a point of comparison, here’s a video that’s more in line with Alaska’s usual ads, in terms of tone (which I love, but it’s just very different):
The video has some interesting tidbits, like this one:
Our goal is to become the go-to airline for anyone living anywhere on the West Coast. It starts with recognizing that while both companies share many values, Virgin America’s personality is a great expression of the Bay Area’s own unique way of doing things. That’s why we’re listening and learning. We see and respect the innovative flying experience that Virgin America has put together that people love so much.
It’ll be interesting to see what Alaska does with both brands going forward…
(Tip of the hat to Travelling The World)