Chris Kranky

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JetBlue Official Airline for the Boston Red Sox

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

That’s what the sign at the Boston airport said. I asked myself, why do I care? Am I more likely to choose JetBlue as my airline of choice because they’re a sponsor of the Boston Red Sox? No. I choose JetBlue because they have good prices and a good product. Satellite TV – great. More legroom – great. Interesting snacks – great. Newer planes – great. Schedule I want – fantastic. Price I wanna pay – I love it. Sponsor of the Boston Red Sox? Don’t care.

Clearly corporations pay sponsorships so that they can promote their brand. The classic “this program brought to you by …” and usually they get some advertisement. In this case, JetBlue could talk about their new route to San Juan, or better snacks or something to that effect. That they sponsored the show, is pretty low on my list of things I worry about.

I’m still standing the airport. In front of the JetBlue desk. Not like I don’t know where I’m at. But the sign, “Official Airline of the Boston Red Sox” is leaving me perplexed? Is there an unofficial sponsor?

When you start doing advertising, you start thinking about how many people will see my ad and how much does that work out to be on cost per thousand basis. This isn’t even accounting for the fact that some people don’t see the ad, or need your product. Plenty of people don’t travel anywhere and thus JetBlue advertising is pretty much lost on them.

JetBlue didn’t disclose how much it cost them to become the “Official Airline” but the price tag is likely $8-$10m. Which buys a lot of a advertising and thus would seem on the surface to be a really expensive advertising project. The real culprit here is some executive at JetBlue with little sense about marketing (and probably not too good sense about how bad the economics of running an airline are) who is a big Boston Red Soxs fan. So for $10m, this executive and his buds get to come down to the dugout, hang out with the players and for those precious few moments get to be a D-list celebrity. This sort of broad sponsorship has almost no value to driving business to JetBlue. The execs are sitting down in the dugout, holding a beer in a paper cup, thinking “wow – I bet people really think we’re a cool airline”. They don’t, they simply don’t care. Yet companies do it all the time and while these executive manage to generating precise results, there is no precision or even imprecise results from this type of advertising.

I’d argue JetBlue would have been better to send a little letter to each of Boston’s 5m citizens and enclose a $1 bill saying, “Hey we’re JetBlue, we’ve got a cool airline, come fly with us, here’s a dollar, thanks for reading.” An action like that would trigger far most press than a simple sponsorship of a baseball team. Course you don’t get to sit in the dug out.