When JetBlue announced that it would switch to Pepsi products for its inflight beverage service there was also a promise of future promotional efforts. The first of those goes live this week in New York City. The iconic Pepsi-Cola neon sign on the East River will be updated for the first time ever, adding JetBlue branding. The promotion officially launches on Thursday night but the installation began Tuesday.
JetBlue and Pepsi are two iconic New York-based brands, and what better way to come together than by celebrating in our very own home of Long Island City, Queens. “As New York’s Hometown Airline™, we are excited to temporarily transform the East River waterfront and bring new light to this historic landmark. – Elizabeth Windram, JetBlue VP marketing
The release highlights the “effervescent spirit of both brands” and notes that “the collaboration infuses the onboard experience with even more refreshment and fun.” It is unclear what additional fun is coming to the inflight passenger experience with the partnership, but given JetBlue’s historical willingness to push boundaries on such programs the next year or so should offer a few surprises.
Anne Fink, President of Global Foodservice at PepsiCo, calls the marketing effort the “perfect place to kick off the partnership and demonstrate our excitement by literally changing the visual fabric of our shared hometown.” Not all residents are convinced, however. The sign is an official city landmark and early reactions online are mostly opposed to the conversion of the old advertising billboard into a new advertising billboard. Which is certainly ironic, but also not entirely baseless. When advertisements remain in place unchanged long enough they become a part of the fabric of a city. A sudden jolt to that can be a jolt to the local conscious, altering the emotions and impression of the advert.
While some locals might be concerned the broader impact of the campaign is likely to be more positive. Similar to the carrier’s licensing of the I <3 NY logo and other localized marketing efforts, the broader brand recognition is a valuable win for the smaller airline. While its brand is very strong in New York, Boston and Fort Lauderdale, home of its main focus cities, other markets are less familiar with JetBlue. Tying it to the Pepsi sign will help increase that awareness.
The activation is a limited time event; the JetBlue bits will be removed from the sign on October 1st. Hopefully that will quell some of the frustrations.