Turkish Airlines’ rise in status is being supported by a high-profile marketing campaign involving some of the world’s most recognisable sports stars.
Among recent commercials, screened during prime-time television slots, one features the Manchester United football team playing with a football inside an aircraft; another, featuring US basketball player Kobe Bryant and Argentinean footballer Lionel Messi, is one of the all-time most watched clips on YouTube, with over 100 million views.
Temel Kotil says he is not really a football fan, “but it’s important for Europe, the Far East, Hong Kong, Bangkok; in Japan they love it”. He says that “soccer is also appealing in the USA”, but it is by featuring Bryant that Turkish has ensured it will capture the attention of the US market. “You want to give a message; it’s better to have common ground,” he adds.
Yet Kotil says marketing requires a different approach in different regions. “On the branding for each land, each culture, you need to bring whatever you can have in your hands,” he says. “Barcelona is excellent branding, Manchester [United] is excellent, but we do a lot of tiny things to make sure we capture the heart of passengers.”
One example is a Kenyan lady named Ama, whose picture – in which she was wearing a Turkish Airlines baggage tag as a ring – was received by its management. Kotil says they invited her, her husband and five of her children to Istanbul to make a commercial aimed at the African market. “For Africa football is good, basketball is good; but that lady is from that land,” he says.