Braathens SAFE believes funny ads are popular with Norwegian punters.
Margaret Olley reports
Naked men bursting in on their in-laws. Norwegian couples wife-swapping
in an African jungle. Humour plays a large part in the advertising
campaigns of the Norwegian airline, Braathens SAFE.
The family-owned airline turned to comedy in its advertising two years
ago with the Cannes award-winning television spot, ‘naked lunch’,
through its agency of ten years, Leo Burnett Oslo.
The ad stars a husband arriving home unexpectedly. He strips off in the
hall, puts a red rose between his teeth and bursts into the living room
to surprise his wife - only to find her with her parents sitting down to
afternoon tea. The message of the ad? Braathens’ flights are so cheap
you can fly your parents down for the weekend any time you like.
However, although the ad proved to be a favourite with international
judges, the campaign overall did not move any tickets, according to
Svein Oyvag, the marketing director of Braathens.
So the airline shunned television in its marketing for a time, moving
back into print ads, and Burnetts concentrated on building up its market
share in Norway.
This strategy has proved successful. The carrier’s share of the
Norwegian market rose to 51.8 per cent in 1995, up from 50 per cent in
1994, with the number of international passengers rising by 33 per cent.
More importantly perhaps, its pre-tax profits rose to 774 million
Norwegian crowns in 1995 compared with 671 million crowns in 1994.
But Braathens didn’t stay away from the small screen for long. It went
back on television last October to publicise its links with British
Airways and its frequent flier points scheme (known as BRAcard).
The new television spot features a Norwegian couple travelling in
Africa, using their frequent flier points. They come face-to-face with a
tribal African couple in the jungle and try to communicate. The
situation ends in complete confusion with the African man leaving with
the Norwegian woman.
Though the television ad was a success, an accompanying print campaign
was accused of racism and one execution was subsequently withdrawn.
Overall, however, the number of BRAcard members soared from 80,000 to
the current level of 170,000, and 400 people now join the scheme each
More recent marketing has concentrated, according to ¯yvŒg, on building
up loyalty through print advertising and direct mail, and a special
promotion to commemorate the airline’s silver jubilee was particularly
‘We sold 200,000 tickets in just four days, with one ticket being booked
every one-and-a-half seconds, which really raised our profile,’ Oyvag
says. This claim is bourne out by domestic passenger traffic figures -
up 9 per cent January to May, compared with the previous year.
The airline now hopes that its recent moves will lift both its profile
and its game in the Scandinavian market, where Scandinavian Airlines
Systems, owned by the governments of Norway, Denmark and Sweden, has, to
date, dominated the skies.
Daily flights by Braathens on the heavily-used, one-hour route between
Oslo and Stockholm are due to start on 27 October, putting it in direct
competition with SAS. The airline, majority-owned by Ludv S. Braathens,
has won nine daily slots from Stockholm and eight from Oslo. It is
aiming for a market share of 25 per cent on the Oslo-Stockholm route
within two or three years.
In addition, last month Braathens announced a move which gave it a
foothold in the Swedish market with the purchase of the loss-making
Swedish domestic airline, Transwede, that has five Fokker-100 aircraft
serving five destinations in Sweden.
These expansion moves are due to be backed up by an advertising campaign
scheduled for October and November to run in Norway and Sweden. It will
probably stick to print, but will definitely retain the airline’s
hallmark of humour.
‘We will keep our media strategy of doing ads in a warm way with a human
element and a touch of humour,’ Oyvag comments.