Last week, my wife and I spent a few days in France. We flew a low-cost carrier (Transavia, whose perky branding almost makes you forget that you’ll be charged $2.50 for bottled water), but being in the airport reminded me of the popularity of, and excitement around, Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. In fact, El Al, Israel’s flagship carrier, just announced a new non-stop, Dreamliner-serviced Tel Aviv-to-San-Fransisco flight, in a bid to compete with United on the same route.
But what’s most interesting to me is how the Dreamliner has become something of a minor consumer brand. Think about it: No individual will ever buy a Dreamliner (except for maybe Jeff Bezos). But flyers are increasingly being primed to seek out Dreamliner-serviced flights. Heck, it’s featured on United’s homepage. El Al has a whole Buzzfeed-esque blog post entitled “Six Great Reasons to Fly on the Dreamliner” — remarkably consumer-oriented content for something with a $200 million price tag. It’s a B2B product that has hints of B2C marketing — and where the marketing is being done by the purchaser (United, El Al, etc) rather than the provider (Boeing)
The closest corollary I can think of is Intel’s 90s and 2000s “Intel Inside” campaign — you know, the TV ad that closed with “bum-bum-bum-bum.” Consumers, who would almost never purchase, say, an Intel Celeron processor on their own, were primed to walk into Best Buy and ask for a computer with Intel inside it. The key difference here was that it was Intel – not Dell or Gateway – doing the marketing.
But the idea remains the same: consumers were educated to ask for something they’d never directly buy. It’s an incredibly impressive marketing feat.