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April 3, 2003 – Airline Advertising

Airlines are slowly beginning to step up advertising despite the war. The additional ads in the last few days, from online sellers of airline tickets as well as the carriers themselves, reflect the industry’s difficult situation. At Orbitz, the online ticket broker owned by a consortium of major carriers, We started to see a definite decline in demand, especially in international travel, a couple of days before the war started, so we decided to pull back some marketing support, said Michael Sands, the chief marketing officer, in Chicago. Those cutbacks included newspaper ads and so-called pop-under ads on Web sites, he said. But now we see demand as coming back, so we’re going to be aggressive in advertising, Sands said.

It’s hard to countervail the American’ people’s desire to travel, and people want to book their summer travel plans, particularly for early summer. We may be taking a much closer look at consumer perceptions, hour by hour, so to speak, instead of day by day, said Eric Webber, a vice president at GSD&M in Austin, Texas, the Omnicom Group agency that has long created campaigns for Southwest Airlines.