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Comment by Michael B. Moore on September 22, 2011 at 3:39pm

This is a follow-up to the previous Delta ad, reviewed here almost exactly a year ago.  It's the same campaign with the same look and feel, but this spot comes across as a tighter, more consumer oriented execution. It’s a stronger and more strategic piece of work, although W&K still leaves quite a lot on the table in terms of its emotional potential that could be leveraged to build the brand and drive business.

The Big Creative Idea here is the line: "An airline's job is to take you from where you are, to where you need to be.  And we're not just talking about points on a map."  This is on its face a very strong and strategic direction for an airline.  It captures both the physical aspect of transportation, but most important, it could also include the emotional expression of bringing people together.  Like the previous ad, the spot utilizes a black & white approach and includes absolutely gorgeous scenes that evoke the best of travel.

The Delta brand commands ownership of the spot via audio and visual cues, including a nice splash of color at the end with a warm logo bookend that follows a strong climax - a girl raising her arms leading the eye to a plane crossing the sky!

The commercial is beautifully shot, the copy is tightly strategic, and the Delta brand is the unmistakable winner of the spot.  The only reservations I have mimic a major flaw in the campaign's earlier sibling.  This ad, to its detriment, focuses on things as opposed to people.  Humans are social beings and, as such, we establish stronger emotional bonds with other people as opposed to places, things, etc.  Sure, showing shots of great cities reinforces the places that Delta can take you, but wouldn't the bigger win for the brand be in exploring the emotions of human interactions that occurs in those places? In fact, showing a scene of the Eiffel Tower devoid of any people is just a plain waste.  The Eiffel Tower is known for romance in a place called the City of Love.  Delta could have effectively tapped into most peoples’ positive, emotional associations with that site to leverage their brand’s ability to facilitate those experiences for their consumers.  I really don't understand the strategy of ignoring this.

There are so many ways that Delta could celebrate the emotional victories that they create for their consumers every day.  Why not show the extraordinary joy of a soldier, coming home from a long tour of duty, reuniting with his family?  Since the spot highlights the addition of WiFi on flights, why not show someone texting or Skyping with a significant other from their seat on the flight?  Since business travel is so important, why not show someone collaborating online with a colleague back at the office and then successfully presenting in front of a big customer?  There are so many ways that the actual human impact of air travel could be celebrated to the benefit of the Delta brand.  In fact, THAT's where the huge branding potential is!  Why ignore it?

Although the ad includes a few shots of people, it is actually rather devoid of any kind of intimate interaction between them.  Even the shot with what appears to be a dad and his young son could be perceived as a rather standoffish interaction with the attention more on the setting.  Like the first ad, it’s as if they want to keep Delta, shots of their planes, and where those planes can take you as the center of attention, when in reality - those are merely the vehicles (pun intended) to deliver the broader wins centered around the human emotions of those activities.  

Four Stars for a really good ad that could have been great!

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