How JetBlue made people want to hear babies crying on a plane

by Anastasiia Ulianchenko

PR is very much about changing people’s perceptions and way of thinking. Today I will talk about a JetBlue’s FlyBabies PR campaign, which managed to change passenger’s attitude even towards such an annoying thing as crying babies on a flight.

We all know how stressful it is when there is a baby crying for hours on a plane. But the person who’s stressed even more is the parent holding a crying child and receiving all those “bad looks” from passengers. A recent survey revealed that even though 65% of adults understand that parents have no control over their baby’s crying, 40% still say they get annoyed by crying babies on flights. JetBlue realised that there is no way to solve the problem, but there is a way to make people perceive it differently and more empathetically.

A flight from New York to Long Beach, CA on Mother’s Day, 15th of April 2016 turned out to be a special one, where crying babies became a good thing. After all moms and dads with kids took their places among passengers, a flight attendant announced that every time a baby cries on this flight all 140 passengers get 25% discount on the next flight with JetBlue. Which means that four cries are equivalent to a free ticket. Insert <FlyBabies 3> here

All of a sudden, every time baby started crying instead of complaining, getting angry and looking at parents annoyingly, people started smiling and clapping. Insert <FlyBabies 4> here Moreover, a crew noticed that people started helping moms and dads to calm their children down, entertain them and show more empathy in general even though crying babies meant discounts, Morgan Johnston, a spokesperson of JetBlue said.

The airline said the goal of “FlyBabies” was to address a topic that people tend to shy away from.

“We’ve had this ongoing mission to inspire some humanity, and we thought this was something we cold weigh in on,” said Johnston.

So, to analyse the campaign, the problem JetBlue decided to solve was: passenger’s dissatisfaction on flying with babies on a plane.

“People smile at babies everywhere, except on planes,” said Elizabeth Windram, JetBlue’s director brand management and advertising.

Strategy: to turn a negative experience into a positive one, to acknowledge how moms (and parents in general) feel while travelling with children, inspire some humanity and encourage people to be more understanding and sympathetic.

Creative: offer all 140 passengers on a board 25% discount each time a baby cries to deliver the message that this experience can be pleasant if you only change your attitude towards it.

Results: the campaign went viral being mentioned by numerous media, the video of the campaign shared on Youtube gained more than 1,5 million views. Moreover, this campaign, launched on Mother’s day, demonstrated the social responsibility of the brand, demonstrated JetBlue as a company which cares about its customers.

As we can see, PR is a powerful instrument that can be used to change people’s perception of various situations, not only brand’s reputations and relationship with stakeholders. Smart PR campaigns can make a world a better place. Obviously, one flight like this will not make all airlines to follow the example, but this campaign clearly shows how creative thinking can awaken empathy in humanity.

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