Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum

Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum

Article excerpt

Is Airmiles making a big mistake by ditching its brand equity for Avios?

Airmiles, the UK travel loyalty programme, is to be renamed Avios, following the merger of British Airways and Iberia to create IAG, sparking criticism that the change will confuse its customers

MAYBE - Louise Fowler, Business leader, brand and marketing, The Co-op banking group

If the only consideration were Airmiles' English-speaking customer base, my answer would be 'yes, big mistake'.

Airmiles was a great idea. It was instantly understandable, appealing at the point of launch and created a sense of immediate engagement in its potential customer base.

The beauty is that it is not just another random currency with a clever name, but a clear proposition. It 'does what it says on the tin'.

Not so with Avios, but then Airmiles doesn't translate into Spanish and I see why change might be necessary in a merger, where not alienating one population by enforcing the customs of another is what matters.

I suspect regular flyers will convert relatively easily and soon learn the exchange rates, but I suppose I'm left wondering how motivating 600 Avios on my petrol is going to be. From a brand point of view, the loss of the Airmiles name should be mourned, even if I can see, from a business point of view, why IAG is doing it.

MAYBE - Nick Mercer, Commercial director, Eurostar

It was to be expected that BA and Iberia's frequent-traveller programmes would be merged to encourage the use of the wider route network by regular air travellers. The surprise is that the Airmiles consumer collecting programme is to share the same currency and be rebranded Avios.

Some customers and their families, who are in both the BA Executive Club programme and Airmiles, will clearly benefit, and consumers will adjust to the change in mileage structure, and also benefit from flight upgrades.

The downside for regular Airmiles collectors is that they will have to pay a minimum of pounds 27 tax for their flight redemptions, and this will put some of them off, when rival programmes such as Nectar provide free rewards.

I am sure if IAG were able to use the Airmiles name across Europe, it would. Sadly, the compromise of Avios sounds weak and lacks the distinctiveness of Airmiles and its flying boat logo.

YES - Kate Howe, President, Draftfcb London,

It is 'adios' to Airmiles, a pioneering brand that has been in the consumer consciousness for more than 20 years. …

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