How to Get Attention in a Crowded Aviation Marketplace

Low cost carriers often eschew global distribution systems – to save money you buy tickets from them in person or online. And in some parts of world many tickets are indeed still purchased in person. Brand identity matters — if you’re going to get consumers to buy from you, they need to know who you are.

And certainly the Thai domestic market is crowded. In addition to national flag carrier Thai Airways, there’s competition between Thai AirAsia, Bangkok Airways (not to be confused with a low cost carrier), and Nok Air.

So NokAir is running a promotion with Maxim models dressed as flight attendants posing with their planes.

I’m not sure why this is supposed to make people want to fly Nok Air. Hooters Air didn’t survive, and the Hooters Girls were actually on the plane. Here the models are just in a calendar.

But sex is a time-honored marketing approach, and perhaps most strategically the calendar has sparked controversy. Which means people are talking about it. The media covers it. Even I’m writing about it. So it’s probably good marketing, after all!

The Thai Ministry of Culture has complained about the campaign, because marketing with sex they say reminds of Thailand’s reputation as a sex culture and destination for prostitution.

But their ‘formal protest’ carries little weight, because no laws have apparently been broken.

Oddly enough, Thai Airways owns 49% of Nok Air, and the government owns 51% of Thai. Perhaps a complaint from the Ministry of Finance would be taken more seriously.

Some of the photos from the calendar are available on Nok Air’s Facebook page.

Are you inclined now to fly Nok Air?

(HT: sobore on Milpoint)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This is obviously a sordid airline advertising strategy, somewhat reminiscent of what Spirit might do in the USA (maybe I shouldn’t give them any ideas). If I were running the company, my conscience/morality probably wouldn’t let me do it, especially when considering Thailand’s sex tourism reputation. It wouldn’t be the kind of company I’d want to run. That said, and as you’ve observed, this might actually be an EFFECTIVE ad strategy to break free from the clutter.

    And, I’ll admit, I enjoyed the photos a lot more than your typical shots showing various hotel breakfasts. :)

  2. I flew Nok Air from Chang Mai to Bangkok a few weeks ago. Definitely a no frills flight and man is it tight back in economy! Thank god it was a short flight! No sign of any models either but at the Nok Air check in counter there was a separate priority check in for monks!

  3. Such ads probably work mostly on the level of brand awareness: they just want you to think of them when you need to fly, not sure they can really expect you to be inclined to fly them just because they showed you a few women in bikinis.

    I’d much rather they invested in marketing via the usual distribution channels. I only learned of Nok Air existence last month when I was already in Thailand, and by that time I had already bought my domestic ticket on Air Asia, having learned of Air Asia from Kayak. It didn’t occur to me to Google “thai domestic airlines” or whatever. But I guess they are focused on targeting the domestic market more than tourists.

  4. I flew them in December out of Surat Thani. They were fine (and considerably less expensive than Bangkok Airways out of Ko Samui).

  5. As others mention, I’m one who never heard of the airline before, but the free publicity means I now have. I have no plans to book a domestic flight in Thailand, but some people do. They may check the Nok Air website, not because they expect to see the models in bikinis, but because they’ve now heard of the airline.

  6. I think this campaign terribly sexist! I demand they make a second as featuring firefighters to reach the other half of the population!

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