In a few weeks when the legendary Indian summer begins, scores of Indians will want to migrate to cooler destinations around the world. Capitalizing on this upcoming season of travel, a number of airlines routinely launch marketing campaigns vying with each other to woo the Indian flyer. One such campaign, from Uk-based airliner Virgin Atlantic, is themed around the country’s biggest money spinner: Bollywood. Flyers with common Bollywood names can now fly for lesser on Virgin Atlantic flights.
The discount offer is part of a larger campaign that invites Indian vacationers to choose from a list of Bollywood’s most popular shooting destinations. People who happen to share names with some of Bollywood’s iconic heroes and heroines can book their tickets with the airlines to claim up to 10 percent discount on their fares. Titled, ‘Feel like a Star’, the bookings will be open till April 17 and will be valid for travel up to July 31.
The campaign, according to the airline is a move to position itself as the airline that revived the style and fun quotient in air travel. Stephen King, general manager, Virgin Atlantic-India, said that the idea behind their Feel like a Star campaign was to make the journey as pleasurable as the destination itself. He is convinced that the campaign would be a great hit because it connected with the Bollywood lover in every Indian.
King also added that in 2013, the airline flew more than a thousand Indian passengers who shared their names with a list of shortlisted popular Bollywood monikers. The 12 common screen names shortlisted for the campaign include, Simran, Anthony, Karan, Vijay, Tina, Arjun, Pooja, Rahul, Rohit, Sonia, Kiran and Priya. These Bollywood names that lets people fly for lesser have been sported by many stars like Shahrukh Khan, Kajol, Salman Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Hrithik Roshan and Kareen Kapoor among others.
The marketing campaign from Virgin Atlantic, which operates non-stop flights between Delhi and Mumbai towards London and onwards to the United States, offers two types of discounts: Just on the basis of sharing a popular Bollywood screen name, patrons can claim a five percent discount on economy class seats and a 10 percent discount on premium economy cabins. King believes that this summer too the airlines will fly a number of Priyas, Rahuls, and Rohits.
To drive its message home, the campaign has dished out online video banners, besides radio, print and out of home advertising. The image heavy adverts use a multi-layered approach by designing it to resemble a colorful Bollywood movie poster that showcases some of the great locations in the flight’s path. With an air hostess in a perky pink uniform smiling invitingly, the posters bear names like “Mumbai to Manhattan” or “London Aaj Kal” mimicking Bollywood titles.
According to sources in the Indian aviation industry, March is any airline’s lean season, with the flights carrying only 65 to 70 percent of their capacities. However, these numbers will spike up to 90 percent by mid-April, when schools begin their summer vacations. It is the period when competition is heavy between airlines like Air India, British Airways, Jet Airways, and a slew of Gulf carriers flying the popular routes like London and the United States. Whether Virgin Atlantic’s offer to fly passengers with Bollywood names for lesser catches the fancy of the Indian flyer is yet to be seen.
By Aruna Iyer