Alaska Airlines Tries To Appeal To San Francisco In New Video

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.

Alaska-Virgin-America-Merger

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.

Alaska-Virgin-America

It’ll be interesting to see what Alaska does with both brands going forward…

(Tip of the hat to Travelling The World)

Comments

  1. As a Bay Area resident, I really like it. Many small and large shout outs to things that many Virgin America loyalists love (quirky nuns, matadors, mood lighting, etc). Bicycling on the street aside, there were some nice touches to San Francisco too, including AT&T Park and coffee (albeit a more San Franciscan park shot would have been at Dolores Park instead of Alamo Square, no matter what the postcards say).

    I like it. They are trying and trying to reassure those who love VX but are very unfamiliar with AS.

  2. Alaska wants to compete with the big 4, out of necessity. The VX acquisition is going to be a tightrope walk as far as brands are concerned, but in the end Alaska controls the deal (and thus will probably keep the name). It’s really a unique opportunity for Alaska to re-invent itself, and unfortunately that probably won’t happen. Nothing against the name Alaska Airlines, it’s just not American, United, Delta Southwest.

    The big layup is for a NewAS + B6 = Big Legacy US Airline #4. Antitrust could be difficult.

  3. Hoping that Virgin Alaska buys JetBlue and installs Mint on all their long haul routes. That’d give the big 3 something to fear 🙂

  4. @Croz: Cheers to that idea. B6 and VX are both where my loyalty has gone over the past 2 years. For transcon flights, both have a premium product that is superior to the big 3 dinosaurs (B6 Mint being by far the best out there)
    Regarding the current AS/VX situation, It would be wise for Alaska to preserve the VX brand and product. Seems like they’re coming around to the idea.

  5. this video said nothing . so sad to see Virgin America go (it started with the layoffs). More aaaah , bless blaahh please

  6. Alaska should keep the Virgin brand for all cross-country flights and flights east of the Rockies.
    1: The Virgin name is well-established in the East. Alaska is unknown. 2: It will cost millions to establish Alaska for the East Coast market. 3: Alaska flies Boeing; Virgin flies Airbus. Allows them to use both fleets. 3: Alaska will always sound like a regional name, not a national name. 3: Why throw away the super-loyal following that Virgin has – namely me. They can’t buy the loyalty that I have for that brand.

  7. Interestingly Alaska has since hidden this video from the public on their Youtube channel. It seems they bought Virgin American without any idea of how they would combine the two cultures and brands. They didn’t really say anything definitive in this video, but I guess they can’t even stand by what little they did say. Who knows-maybe they are reconsidering the whole thing and will end up keeping the Virgin brand around…

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