between the 5:55 and 12:20 minute marks, and answer the following questions:
- What did Song discover as a result of its market research?
- What market segmentation method(s) did Song use? Explain.
- Describe the profile of Song’s target customer?
- How did Song develop its marketing mix to connect with the “Carries” of the world?
The November 9, 2004 episode of the PBS series Frontline, titled “The Persuaders,” is about the challenge advertisers face in breaking through the clutter of mass marketing to reach targeted consumers. We live in an age when advertising assaults us in a constant repetitive barrage, with billboards, posters, radio and television advertisements, social networking sites, and so-called “guerrilla tactics” like that presented in the beginning of the attached segment all combine to ensure that the average citizen is never unexposed to some form of marketing. “The Persuaders” focuses on a now-defunct airlines, Song, which was spun-off of Delta airlines in 2003. Before its 2006 demise, Song’s marketing department (a part of Delta’s) sought to find a niche for this new air carrier, which sought to target the low-cost, leisure-oriented consumer. As the segment notes, Song’s marketers sought to compete with “hip, low-cost carriers like Jet Blue,” and would have to break through the clutter of air travel marketing by “investing in a new culture around airlines.”
The student poses four questions, the first of which asks “what did Song discover as a result of its market research?” The segment indicates that Song’s marketing research team discovered that there was a large segment of the population being ignored by the airlines industry: women, specifically, young-to-middle-age, married women with three children, a job, and a sport utility vehicle and sports car, whom they generically labeled “Carrie.” So, the market segment and profile used was married women with children, whose needs, the Song marketing team determined, was underrepresented in advertising campaigns, yet who were active shoppers, mainly at stores like Target, but who aspired to higher-end stores like Neiman Marcus, all of whom would be targeted by an advertising campaign on behalf a small airline touting its low airfares, greater variety of entertainment, and “organic food.” Most importantly, the segment notes, it would form “a real connection with women.” The specific advertisement produced by Spade’s company deliberately excluded mentions of air travel and Song, preferring to appeal to emotions through the use of 1960s and early 1970s-era images borrowed from then-active “new wave” film makers like France’s Francois Truffaut.
The Frontline segment points out the conflict between Andy Spade’s concept for an ‘out of the box’ advertising campaign that appeals to women’s emotion while Song’s chief marketing official counters with the need to use a limited marketing budget to draw in consumers and not just present art. The segment closes with an interview with Bob Garfield, a journalist who covers the advertising industry, and who rightly points out that marketers too often lose sight of the goal, which is to increase sales, in deference to their infatuation with producing works of art that appeal to themselves but not to the consumer.
There are several reasons why an airline fails, include Song, such as the intensely competitive nature of the airline industry and the difficulty of budgeting an industry so dependent upon unpredictable fuel costs. That Song went out of business within three years of its launch could be attributed to its failure to identify a market capable of sustaining it, and to advertising campaigns that failed to appeal to a large enough part of the market. The attached article titled “A Sad Song: The Failure of Song Airlines” certainly places the blame squarely on a failed advertising campaign.