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IndiGo, AI bring sky-war to ad world

business Updated: Sep 28, 2016 14:54 IST
Tushar Srivastava
Tushar Srivastava
Hindustan Times
Air India

Air India aircraft parked near hangar at Mumbai airport .(Hindustan Times)

The recent ad war between IndiGo and state-owned Air India (AI) has seen the national carrier taking on the country’s biggest airline by marketshare, quite aggressively.

To be sure, AI was the one which initiated the latest ad war by putting up billboards at the Mumbai airport. It said: “Wish you a comfortable flight. Next time fly with Air India and feel the difference.”

IndiGo, known for its smart advertising campaigns, responded saying: “Yes, Air India, there is a difference. Says the Government.” The airline was referring to DGCA data, which showed its on-time performance was best and customer complaints lowest.

When most thought the duel was over, AI hit back with an ad, which sources said, was created by a senior pilot. “How do some of our friends react when their passengers discover that we offer more leg space, hot meals and more luggage allowance?...With INDIGnation!” said its latest ad.

While industry experts welcome the new found “aggressiveness” shown by AI, they feel the airline should take the counter attack in the same spirit.

“I welcome AI taking an aggressive tone. It reflects confidence. AI should behave just like other private airlines do even if it carries the government legacy with it,” said Jitendra Bhargava, former executive director, AI. “Any kind of an attack on the other must be credible and you should be able to take the retort on the chin because everything is fair in war.”

IndiGo, however, said AI started the ad war by placing a hoarding behind “our counters in a terminal they don’t even operate out of, and now are upset when we put up a message stating pure facts behind our own check-in counters”.

“They were targeting our customers directly. Or else why would their advertisement mysteriously show up right behind our counters in a terminal building they don’t even use.”

AI said it had indeed become “aggressive” in its ad campaign to “gain visibility and prominence and recapture marketshare lost to competitors”.

The duel appears unlikely to end soon as IndiGo has termed AI’s second ad “misleading”, and has said many of its seats actually had more leg space than many of the seats on AI flights.