INTERNATIONAL: THE WORLD’S TOP CLIENTS; Witty ad campaign raises airline’s profile

Braathens SAFE believes funny ads are popular with Norwegian punters. Margaret Olley reports

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was accused of racism and one execution was subsequently withdrawn.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.