When I first got this email from United, about their new hygiene + cleaning standards, it just kinda rubbed me the wrong way. I had trouble figuring out why exactly it felt a little off, but I think I’ve boiled it down to a few things.
For starters, it strikes me as odd that this new hygiene protocol has a name. “United CleanPlus℠.” It sounds like an extension of United’s rewards program, MileagePlus. And in this case, it feels opportunistic.
The goal of messaging during this time in 2020 isn’t to shove hygiene protocol into pre-existing brand structures and naming conventions. Even though I know *why* United’s marketing department signed off on this name, it just *feels* weird.
Now isn’t the time to make a medically-necessary initiative sound like your mileage program.
Which brings me to my next point. Tying the name of very important cleaning/health/hygiene initiative to a mileage program is iffy, at best.
Mileage programs have two things going for them:
1. It’s principally rich people who care: If you’re not a frequent flyer, it simply doesn’t matter whether or not you have Silver Elite Platinum Poppy Seed Bagel Unlimited status.
2. Variable Schedule of Rewards: In the last few years, EVERY SINGLE MILEAGE program has been randomly devalued, at the airline’s whim.
And so, now, you’re left with a hygiene + cleaning program that sounds like a frequent flyer club that principally caters to rich people, and that is subject to random changes. Doesn’t really inspire confidence, huh?
But you know who does inspire confidence? Cleveland Clinic. And maybe Clorox, too. Though I feel like, at this point, their expertise is more in distribution, branding, and maintenance of shelf-space in an increasingly-crowded market. So, honestly, mostly just Cleveland Clinic.
This kind of announcement should be built on a medical base. It just feels odd for an airline to create its own form of certification, and then give it to itself.
If anything – and this is a broader point – Cleveland Clinic & IATA & Clorox or Mr. Clean should put their bald heads together & create a universal cleanliness standard for ALL AIRLINES. Call it FlySafe℠ or AirCare℠ or something, & apply it to certain airlines or routes.
I’ll end by saying that I understand why United needed to send this email, and why it seeks to speak to the weird transition phase we’re currently in. No one is flying now, but a flight in August? Well, maybe. And so an email like this is meant to reassure potential flyers.
But please, please, don’t make it sound like your mileage program. And lose the ℠.
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