The Consultants Have Won: Air France’s New Airline is Named Joon

Air France

When I hear the words “millenials,” “connected,” “international,” and “electric” used in the same press release, I start to feel ill. And those are just a few of the words Air France slung together in its press release announcing that its new (not) low cost airline would be called Joon. Words cannot describe how much I hate this entire thing from start to finish, but of course, that won’t stop me from trying my best. In short, Air France appears to have just given up and told a group of clueless consultants to do whatever they wanted. The end result is an airline with a highly questionable business plan… but one with a “punchy” name. Oh, where to start…?

If you’re familiar with Air France’s project code-named “Boost,” that’s what this is. In that plan, a different group of consultants told Air France its costs were too high. (I could have told them that for a lot less.) Instead of trying to fix that problem at a systemic level, the old and tired suggestion of creating a new lower cost airline-within-an-airline was born. Boost specifically was meant to combat the Middle East carriers and other lower cost airlines that are eating Air France’s lunch on medium- and long-haul flights.

Air France was able to get some concessions from flight attendants, but the pilots weren’t willing to give up much. Still, they approved this new plan a few days ago and last week, the branding was rolled out. This means Air France had already spent a silly amount of money on this project even though approval by the pilots was never guaranteed.

Boost, er, Joon, will have up to 28 airplanes (10 widebodies and 18 narrowbodies), but that’s basically all the hard data we know about it so far. Sure, we know the broad strategy I outline above, but all the details that matter will come in September. Apparently all the details that don’t matter at all are of a higher priority. And since it’s easy to see what’s wrong with Joon’s business plan above, I’ll save the deeper dissection until the airline gives us some real route/configuration/etc information. For now, let’s just focus on the absurdity of this initial wasted branding announcement.

What we do know from the press release is that “Joon will not be a low-cost airline.” That’s supposedly a lie right off the bat since the whole point of Joon is for Air France to be able to get lower costs on currently unprofitable routes. I think what this should say is that it’s not a low FARE airline. And that is a promise that was made to the employees. In other words, “we won’t reduce your costs just to give the savings back to customers. We want it all for ourselves.”

The business model isn’t good, but that won’t stop Air France from pouring a ton of effort and money into creating a useless brand to make it look better. That idea, however, is just ridiculous. Remember, Joon is supposed to take over routes that aren’t profitable for Air France today, and those feed into the Air France network. So having a new brand named Joon is just about as dumb as having a new brand named Ted. Many of the travelers on board will still be connecting from Air France, so this will just be confusing and unnecessary.

This is all lost on Air France, so it has created a brand that targets millennials. After all, that’s what the consultants said, so it has to be a good idea. I couldn’t get very far in the press release before wanting to punch a hole in my screen, but let me just give you some of the low-lights.

Joon is especially aimed at a young working clientele, the millennials (18 to 35 year-olds), whose lifestyles revolve around digital technology. This new brand has been entirely designed to meet their requirements and aspirations, with an authentic and connected offering that stands out in the world of air transport.

First of all, there is absolutely nothing that seems “authentic” about this effort. This is completely manufactured with buzzwords that are meant to make the airline seem cool. But again, who cares? Sure millennials will fly this airline, but so will anyone else who wants to fly from Paris to Dubai or wherever it ends up going. Focusing on one specific generation when the appeal should be much wider (especially when it still connects into the Air France network) is a mistake.

Its visual identity is based on an electric blue colour code symbolizing the airline’s dynamic attitude, as well as the sky, space and travel. The uniform of Joon’s flight attendants will be inspired by the new fashion codes, basic and chic.

This just doesn’t say anything. I see words, and I can read them. But it’s just… nothing.

Our brief was simple: to find a name to illustrate a positive state of mind. This generation has inspired us a lot: epicurean and connected, they are opportunistic in a positive sense of the word as they know how to enjoy every moment and are in search of quality experiences that they want to share with others. Joon is a brand that carries these values

If there’s one thing millennials love, it’s being grouped into a single, narrow definition that is supposed to span them all. But how does Joon “illustrate a positive state of mind”? It may be a play on words in France (jeune = young), but that’s a stretch. (It’s not even pronounced the same. I confirmed with Joon that it’s a hard “J” sound.) Elsewhere it just seems like a name (Korean), a misspelling of a month (English), or a somewhat memorable movie (Benny &…).

With Joon, we have created a young and connected brand that will give the Group a new impetus. Designed for our millennial customers, it will offer more than just a flight and a fare, it will offer a global travel experience. We’ll provide a further update in September, with more details on the brand’s content, products, services, destinations and range of fares!

Now, I’m getting ready to punch my screen again. You know who else “will offer more than just a flight and a fare… a global travel experience”? EVERY AIRLINE THAT FLIES INTERNATIONALLY.

In the Air France-KLM Group’s brand portfolio, Joon is Air France’s complementary younger sister, which will also inspire its customers to travel with its elder sibling.

Did you know you can buy a monitor at Best Buy for $100? I do, because I just SMASHED MINE IN HALF and need a replacement.

I can’t do this anymore, so I’ll leave you with this. Think about how this compares to IAG’s Level. Level is also meant to cater to millennials, but frankly, that branding looked like an afterthought. IAG let the network/aircraft configuration/etc drive the plan, and when it launched, those details were front and center. I find the whole millennial-branding to be absurd, but with IAG it just seemed like a gimmick on top of an airline with an actual plan. (Whether Level works or not is questionable, but you get my point.)

Joon, on the other hand, feels like a gimmicky branding exercise that also happens to have an airline attached. The whole “profitable airline” thing may show up later, if all those spreadsheets are correct. But they aren’t correct. And this won’t work. It’s just another wasted exercise that distracts from the real problems that Air France can avoid having to face for a little while longer by pretending to have a valid strategy.

Get Cranky in Your Inbox!

The airline industry moves fast. Sign up and get every Cranky post in your inbox for free.

77 comments on “The Consultants Have Won: Air France’s New Airline is Named Joon

  1. So Cranky, don’t hold back, tell us what you REALLY think of Joon, haha! I hope you didn’t hurt your hand when you punched the screen! And I wish Air France had hired you as their consultant. I agree with your assessment.

  2. Funny article and hit the nail on the head as to how we all feel when we see this sort of marketing dribble.

  3. This is so crazy stupid I can’t stop laughing. The graphics do the justice.

    Sent from my iPhone 6s on AT&T

  4. Thanks for this. Freaking awesome post. One other thing you didn’t mention: The Precious Little Snowflakes are freaking broke. The rest of them are all of the “demand filet mignon for the price of hamburger” mindset. Oh what could possibly go wrong there betting on that same demographic for survival-as if the basic plan wasn’t bad enough?

    Great article.

    1. Matt D, you mean they’ve all left their safe space at Univ of Missouri – Columbia?

      (which, btw is reporting record LOW admittance #s for the 2nd year in a row..)

    2. Matt D – And now you’re doing the same thing Air France is doing – lumping them all into one neat package. It doesn’t work that way.

    1. If it’s a French airline called Joon, wouldn’t water from the plane (or water served on the plane) be “Joon eau” or “Eau de Joon”? If the airline is truly trying to be hip and to target millennials, Joon should give away bottled water with labels to that effect as a tongue-in-cheek reference, preferably with a picture of the countryside near Juneau on the bottle.

    2. Cranky, is that my picture from Facebook? LOL. That’s a view of downtown from the Treadwell Ditch trail on douglas.

  5. I agree with Brett.

    This is what happens when you pay a lot of 50- and 60-something consulting partners to try to figure out what is “cool” to the younger demographic, as they justify their overpriced bills by seeing how many buzzwords they can fit into each sentence… Meanwhile, their millennial-aged children are going to rolling their eyes at the whole thing.

    If/when this story gets some traction in mainstream US news, the memes and parodies should (rightfully) come fast and furious.

    1. Yep yep. Those same children who never seem to have any money for anything except for I-things and tattoos…excuse me….body art. But have no shame in holding their hands out for everything else. The only real question is: how long will this idea take to crater with a thud?

  6. You hit the nail on the head. Remember Song and Ted. Ineffectual management out of airspeed and altitude turn it over to consultants. One would think the airlines would learn

  7. Yes, the whole Juno thing is all very silly. But, I’m wondering as to what Air France maagement should do. The workforce is adamant that they will not go for pay cuts and right now, costs are too high. Remember that French labour law is much more in favour of the employee compared to the USA – even with Macron in charge this won’t change overnight. Are there any other options that would make a big difference to costs that would not end up with a (very) expensive long term strike ? Air France management has tried the more aggressive approach of being willing for a strike to happen, but they seemed to have lost the stomach for the fight and the unions know it

    1. Agree that it’s easy to pick on AirFrance management but hard to come up real solutions.

      If AirFrance can’t compete on costs, they need to compete on service. Failing that, AF management should just plan to start inking some deals with other airlines and eliminating unprofitable routes, in a (probably futile) attempt to convince labor that if labor won’t agree to cuts or restructuring, the airline will have to shrink, cut jobs, and ultimately lose market share to competitors one way or another. A job at AirFrance shouldn’t be a sinecure.

    2. David – It’s a great point. The key is that management can’t do these little carve-outs because they waste time and energy. They need to be willing to endure strikes and have real upheaval if it means the long term success is guaranteed. Look at IAG. They went through hell with BA and Iberia over the years. Sure, those aren’t in France. But they did the hard work to get it to a sustainable place. Management should be focusing on the core problem, not some little side project.

  8. Brett – on behalf of consultants everywhere, I take umbrage at your headline. No consultant who has any sense of history would support Air France’s folly. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing twice and expecting a different result the second time. We now have a new, millennial version – JOON. I have a better name — NoYoLoCo Airline. (Not Your Low Cost Airline). If this is how AF intends to compete, then Norwegian, Ryanair and, indeed, the rest of Europe should be licking their chops.

    Mo Garfinkle Chairman and CEO Tailwind Consultants +1 202.359.2107

    1. Mo – you remember how we came up with the name go! @ Mesa, right? Not sure if Mark S ever told you that! has to do with how “someone” signs their emails…..

    2. Mo – There is a long list of bad strategies which airlines have followed thanks to consultants, and many of those have been repeated. Of course, that doesn’t mean every consultant is bad, far from it. But some airlines seem to prefer relying on poor consulting ideas than actually thinking for themselves. The real blame lies on the airline for that.

      1. Most of the bad strategies — starting with the Swissair strategy and going through Etihad, TED, and more can be tracked to a very short list of alleged consultants.

        Mo Garfinkle Chairman and CEO Tailwind Consultants +1 202.359.2107

    3. As a business consultant, I support Mgarfinkle. There are business consultants who look at strategies with an eye on the dollar value, and there are image consultants.

      AFKL obviously do not know this and hired the image boys, all fluff no substance.

      Other than that, completely agree, Joon seems to have brain stormed during a bar crawl along the Left Bank in Paris with a finishing bender at ‘The Centre Pompidou’ (Modern Art for Millennials)

    1. Zack – It’s all about internal politics, no doubt. Those have tight caps on what they can and can’t do. This will be a separate carve-out now.

  9. Agree that the idea, the name, the branding and (probably – we don’t know yet) all other aspects of this product are terrible. And why do you need a Joon if you have Transavia and Hop that could do/be the same with some additional aircraft.

    On the other hand, Ted and Song have been mentioned, but there is also Air Canada Rouge and Level (as mentioned in the article). While the jury is still out on Level, from what I understand, Rouge is performing pretty well as a business. And the early votes for Level are not bad.

    But… all this long distance discount flying is mostly a pipe dream anyway, millennials not withstanding. Norwegian is bleeding badly…

  10. Thank you for pointing out the absurdity of it all, but mainly for making me laugh on a Monday morning.

  11. “Joon, on the other hand, feels like a gimmicky branding exercise that also happens to have an airline attached.”

    Yeah, this is definitely a case of the tail wagging the dog. The “Millenials” (TM) will be so much better off once they’re Gen X-aged and big corporations and brand consultants stop targeting them with this cringeworthy crap.

  12. The consultants are breaking out the finest champagne. In the end Joon will be breaking the bank. Although I wish it success for the sake of the employees involved, realistically you can consider adding it to the “airlines we lost in 2018” list now

  13. Well, “Joon” is better than “Level.” But indeed it’s difficult to detect any substance beneath the hype. And I bet they’ll never actually fly to Juneau. ;-)

  14. Its visual identity is based on an electric blue colour code symbolizing the airline’s dynamic attitude

    That “colour code” appears to be #0700a5, but I’m not sure how it symbolizes a dynamic attitude.

  15. The morons who came up with this idea should have purchased the domain when it would have only cost them a couple grand… it’s going to cost them a LOT more now…

  16. At least someone else was willing to call bullshit on the the “airline for millennials” hype rather than regurgitating the press release. I was beginning to wonder if anyone is paying attention at all.

  17. All this stuff about marketing to millenials. I don’t recall ever seeing anything ever marked to Gen X.

    But, anyway, this seems like a stupid idea. But, it doesn’t seem that AF is the world’s best run airline. I wonder what DL thinks of this since they have the JV with AF.

    1. southbay – we had Pepsi Clear, Zima, and Splurge. or Sploosh. or whatever that sugar-laidened green syrupy soda pop was..

      1. I think you’re thinking of “Surge”? Supposed to be Coke’s answer to Mountain Dew (well, after Mello Yello, which you can still find in some parts of the US, not that you’d want to.) Surge was replaced by “Vault”, which also flopped. I just looked Surge up and found out Coke’s brought it back in some markets. I’ll be sure to give it a miss.

  18. They could get Johnny Depp to reprise his role in “Benny and Joon” for the advertisements… Still, its a better model than Family/Avatar…

  19. When I started reading the article, I thought the graphics were created by you, Cranky. By the end of it, I’m pretty convinced those are authentic AirFrance images.

  20. I can’t stand anything about this idea. The name sounds like baby-talk, the livery looks like something they pulled out of a 60-year-old consultant’s cat’s arse, and the whole concept of an airline for millennials is stupid for aforementioned reasons. This is an airline made for toddlers by their senile grandparents.

    Now I think they should have done something like LH Cityline or AC Rouge. Those airlines fly old planes with high density and not much premium; otherwise, they’re the same as the parent airlines.

    There is no need to get ridicule from the millennials whole confusing the other boomers.

  21. Coming from a far, far different generation than most, I guess, I think we ‘ve reached the point where the average passenger doesn’t give a hoot what he or she is flying, what it’s called, or how it is branded, just as long as it’s cheap and has a way they can hook up their devices and avoid what passes off for the world we’ve come to. The Crandalls and the likes, must be hard for them to watch what’s happening.

  22. “Joon,” “Acela,” “Accura,” “Allegis.” What’s with all the made up bullshit names. Our president said, in reference to “Allegis,” it sounds like the next world class disease.

    1. Name-wise, Level is at least a bit better than Hop (I refuse to put the exclamation mark on it.) But that’s setting the bar pretty damn low.

  23. Probably the funniest article you’ve had here in a while. Those Joon puns were priceless.

    On a more serious note, is there any reason why they can’t just focus on Transavia and/or Level instead. Seems weird that Air France-KLMwould have a whopping three LCCs, two of which (LEVEL and Joon) seem redundant and could cannibalize each other.

    1. mk03 – Yeah, each airline has negotiated a very specific allowed operation. Transavia can have x number of airplanes in France, y in Amsterdam, etc. It’s all a stupid shell game, but well, so be it.

  24. Also, as someone who has an interest in spaceflight, the Juno pic was priceless for me.

    Also note that Joon is just one letter away from, and sounds like a poor pronunciation of, John, which of course is slang for toilet. Kind of a fitting name given your reaction.

  25. You’d better hurry to Best Buy and get your monitor before they too die from a failing business model…

    1. Yes indeed. Jordan sent this to me, and I thought there were some great marketing campaigns in here for Joon. With any luck, they’ll steal the ideas and use them.

    2. Hysterical, Jordan! I think you’ve created some great ads! #sidejob #airlineconsultant #yuccie

  26. the question here isn’t IF this will fail, but how quickly and spectacularly it will fail. and, i guess, how much it will cost air france. millennials, if anything, have no loyalty to products such as this.

  27. There’s a thread on in which someone claims AFKL had to agree to add 2 AF for each KL plane to the respective fleets to get the AF pilots to go for this new venture. If that’s the case (and that’s IF as it wasn’t substantiated), when does someone like IAG or DL come to KLM’s rescue and help buy them out of that partnership?

    1. Well the DL and MU invests in AFKL and AFKL buying 31% of VS news today seems to lessen the likelyhood of KLM being freed by DL any time soon.

    2. IAG or DL couldn’t do that, unless the parent company (Air France-KLM) agreed to sell KLM off. It’s not a partnership, they are legally one company, just like IAG.

  28. This article is everything!!! I had the same reaction when I read the press release, except I wasn’t able to destroy my work computer monitor. It’s such a pathetic, lacklustre, generic effort which makes zero sense and seems like such a strange concept.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cranky Flier