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The importance of timing during a brand experience

Over the last year of getting on Air Canada flights, I have noticed the first thing mentioned to passengers upon boarding the plane is “Welcome aboard Air Canada , the #1 airline in North America according to….blah blah blah magazine”.

I’d like to point this out as an example of poor timing and what not to do when trying to deliver a brand experience.

I think we can all agree that flying is generally not fun, unless you’re one of the lucky ones that flies Singapore Airline’s new First Class . Even there however, you can’t control flight delays and cancellations, poor airport service, and jet lagged passenger moods. If AC had this in mind, they would know that no matter how hard they try, there will always be passengers getting on their plane, that are pissed off about something at that exact moment in terms of the flying experience. I see it every single time, someone complaining about the size of the seats, someone else not being able to find luggage space in the overhead compartment,  a seat mix up, anger in new travelers as they find out they have to pay for food, etc…Something happens every single time on every single flight.

The last thing passengers want to hear at that moment is that the airline is #1. Instead of merely telling people, AC should focus on living up to that claim so that it is truly felt and believed by the passengers. Personally, I have grown to like AC, I know for a fact that they are much better than plenty of airlines out there. However, building the “#1 spiel” into the opening script is not a smart move. All you have to do is listen to the sarcastic remarks and chuckles that echo around the cabin every time the script comes on.

Another example of poor timing is the annoying mandatory, un-skippable video advertisements that are sometimes included before a feature flight video (applies to any airline). While I fully realize and appreciate the role of advertising, it boggles my mind as to why any brand would want to advertise in this manner. Again timing is everything. Why would you want to associate your product or service with a brief  moment in time when people are actively trying to skip you, but they can’t do anything because you just did the equivalent of taking away their remote (all controls freeze). At this point some basic classical conditioning occurs as they experience a negative feeling during this exposure to your brand. This registers somewhere deep in their brain, and can easily resurface upon the mere thought of you. Yes, they can live with the 15 second wait, but why on earth do advertisers expose themselves to this and actually pay for it? Of course you get plenty of eyeballs, just like AC gets plenty of ears listening to how it is the best airline in North America.

Timing is golden. Don’t mess with it.

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Published inInsightMarketingRant


  1. I don’t think it’s a question of timing. You’re dealing with many moods, frustrations and personal feelings that are all cramped into a confined space which will shortly take off and defy gravity.
    I don’t think there’s a time and a place to talk about your #1 placement if you’re an airline. You’re right in noting it shouldn’t force its brand superiority when everything leading up to boarding may have been an absolute “fail”.

    but I think AC needs to rethink brand completely and learn to be less frigid and cold, and perhaps more people friendly.
    AC – while not the worst – is not on my top 10 airliners. And I do pay extra to avoid taking it. I have had bad service almost every time I flew with them, and I think they just don’t know how to be people-oriented.
    I think the corporate culture there needs a shakeup, and perhaps a crash course on friendly behaviour. They’re not the best representation of Canada, and their branding is irrelevant once we start talking about the real leaders of the aviation industry.

    ^ end of my rant 🙂

  2. If a company, an airline or any other, has a bad product, then there’s no “good” time for them to tell people someone thinks they’re #1. They need to drop the spin and focus on improving their product.

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