Allegiant Strangely Rolls Out a Nationwide Ad Campaign

When you think of Allegiant, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Ultra low costs? A fee for everything? Nationwide advertising powerhouse? Wait, that third one… maybe not. But it’s actually happening. Allegiant has decided to roll out a nationwide ad campaign, and I’m sort of confused as to why.

Allegiant’s first national spot is up on YouTube and it’s part of the “Here’s the Deal” campaign.

The message is certainly consistent with what you’d expect from Allegiant. There is no such thing a free soda – it’s baked into the ticket price. So fly Allegiant, where you only pay for what you want. It’s the same message we hear from Spirit, but I can’t see Spirit spending money on a national campaign. Wouldn’t it make more sense for Allegiant to just put this out there and try to get some viral love instead of spending a lot of dough?

Historically, Allegiant has done TV ads but in a very different way. As we all know, Allegiant’s strategy has generally been to fly from small town USA to big city destination. The strategy started with a Vegas base, but now you see it in Phoenix, Florida, and even Hawai’i. Small cities around the US were thrilled to get nonstop service to a big destination, and it made advertising easy.

Allegiant could just focus on route advertising in that city. So when Casper, Wyoming got a flight to Vegas, Allegiant could blast the local market through cable and let everyone know about the flight and how cheap it was. It was a good strategy.

But now Allegiant thinks it’s getting too big for that kind of thing. It’s not only changing the way it advertises, but it’s changing the content of the ads themselves. This is Allegiant’s first real attempt at a branding campaign. It doesn’t talk about routes or fares, but instead it talks about the business model and why you should like it… you’ll get cheap fares.

The airline’s most recent expansion has added some fairly big city markets to its usual roster of small towns. Concord, NC is just outside Charlotte. Portsmouth, NH isn’t far from Boston. And both Stewart and Islip are on the outskirts of New York City. In order to reach all these people, Allegiant spokesperson Jessica Wheeler says that they decided to use a “more efficient” ad buy.

To be clear, Allegiant is not turning into Southwest. You aren’t going to see brand ads plastered all over major sporting events on network TV. But you will be able to see these ads no matter where you live in the US, if you’re looking for them.

Jessica gave me a sampling of the channels which will play the ads. See if you can pick out a theme: HGTV, Travel Channel, ABC Family, DIY, Destination America, and Lifetime Movie Network are a few. As Jessica put it, Allegiant is able to reach more of the airline’s target audience at the same frequency by doing a national ad buy. And clearly that audience is moms. It makes sense, since moms are often the ones controlling the finances and making travel plans for the family. But do you really need a national campaign to reach them?

Allegiant thinks so, but I’m not convinced that’s the case. The press release is full of grandiose statements. For example.

The company is the largest domestic low-cost carrier, serving as the hometown airline of more than 90 communities, including recently announced service in the New York City and Boston areas.

That may be true, but most of these cities see a flight just a couple times a week. So while the footprint is broad, there just aren’t that many seats to sell in each city. It seems to me that those cities that aren’t filling their flights could benefit from local ads, but why bother blasting those out elsewhere? Maybe Allegiant is right that with some pretty big cities, it makes sense to do this kind of thing. We’ll find out soon enough.

The ads will only run for 4 weeks, and then I assume they’ll pay close attention to see whether they got the lift they were hoping for. So if we see the strategy continue afterwards, that means it worked.

29 Responses to Allegiant Strangely Rolls Out a Nationwide Ad Campaign

  1. JRS says:

    Sept./Oct is traditionally a slow period for air travel with many airlines offering deals right now so this might have something to do with it but a national scope in the advertising doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

  2. ANCJason says:

    What the hell is “soda”? Is he talking about pop?

    • That’s funny, the soda/pop dividing line that really definds the nation. Maybe they’ll have a ‘pop’ ad for the east :-)

      • I saw a map on soda/pop/coke at one point. It doesn’t devide that cleanly. Y family lived up and down the east coast (FL&NY mostly) we called it soda. Then we move to Ohio and got asked what type of pop we wanted and we looked at the waitress like she had three heads.

  3. Pedro says:

    nah….he’s talking about a ‘soft’ drink

  4. yo says:

    “Allegiant, flying with us is slightly better than a Turkish prison”

  5. Brandon says:

    Perhaps they have a sizable expansion planned in the future? I recall when Kohl’s advertised locally in my area for like a year before they ever opened a store.

    They may have also reached a critical mass where it’s more cost effective to negotiate with a few channels vs a bunch of different cable operators. Another consideration is that I bet a lot of their target market is rural and on satellite so potential travelers rarely see local ads anyways.

    With that said, My guess is they want to build positive brand awareness for the future.

    • CF says:

      Brandon – I think it’s more related to the most recent expansion, which was fairly sizeable for Allegiant. But anytime you only fly a few times a week on a route, it always seems a lot bigger than it is. I don’t sense any imminent massive expansion, but of course that doesn’t mean I’m right!

  6. TomSFO says:

    So if I fly Allegiant I save about $2 for not getting a soda? Do I have to pay extra for an oxygen mask and flotation device? :)

  7. Ben says:

    I actually don’t mind the campaign. Sadly, what people EXPECT to get for their bargain fare, and what they actually get is quite a wide margin. Nice to see a carrier spelling it out their advertising, as opposed to one that makes it sound like you are getting this great deal, only to find out you have to pay for everything separately. In my opinion, it makes a difference with the not so savvy traveler. Now the question is does the message actually reach their target audience

    • Spirit once reported that all of their DOT complaints came from pax who did not book on their website. I agree that Spirit / Allegiant may not provide a good service, but unlike a lot of legacies, its not bait and switch. They are very clear about managing expectations and deliver on that promise, even if they don’t promise much.

    • CF says:

      Ben – I agree with you in that I don’t mind the campaign either. I just question the value they’ll receive from doing this. My guess is it will reach the target audience, but they don’t seem to have trouble filling seats today. So will this really change anything?

  8. I saw the add and I was like they have a point but why put this point in an add on Nat Cable TV where 1/2 of the people who will see it will not fly on Allegiant because Allegiant does not fly to there hometown.

  9. Robert Odell says:

    I think Brandon is on the right track. Allegiant isn’t known much outside the markets they serve. Maybe they’re trying to raise their profile so when they do add markets, folks have heard of them and will understand the Allegiant “deal”. They just announced a new service Tulsa to Sanford, FL. They’re adding aircraft, so I think they’re prepping for expansion.

    • Brandon says:

      I’m curious if they have in inside track on all the AA MD-80s being retired.

      • CF says:

        Brandon – Allegiant has said that they won’t be adding more MD-80s. Look for more of the Airbuses, or any other airplane that becomes available for cheap.

  10. Vick says:

    I see ads for Sonic & Little Caesars, neither of which are near me. Cheaper to buy nationwide cable than the sum of targeting only the areas they are located.

    • Vick if you check Sonic and Little Caesars website one is someone in your area.

      When I was a kid we saw Burger Kings ads on TV long before one came about an hour away. Then they covered the area real well. Same for Sonic, the nearest was about 1.5hrs away, but when they built one near me I was finally excited to have one and I knew what it was from seeing all those ads.

      Since Allegiant comes and goes so fast in markets, if people see their ads now, and if Allegiant does go to their city one day, the locals will know who they are already from seeing these ads.

    • CF says:

      Sonic and Little Caesars are different in that they cover a lot more geography and a much larger demographic than Allegiant. They also don’t have finite seats to fill, so they can benefit more by pushing harder with national ads.

  11. olamide says:

    Can this airline really get bigger?

  12. Amit says:

    Na.. Not gonna work…

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