To power the next phase of growth, Turkish Airlines needed to transform itself from a regional player to a global transit powerhouse. This meant competing against the Gulf based carriers (Emirates, Etihad, Qatar) for international transfer passengers. Thanks to larger wide body aircrafts (like the A380s) the Gulf based carriers could invest in signature in flight experiences like showers, apartments, business suites and larger seats. Their marketing playbook was to focus communications exclusively on these experiences, creating a halo around their entire offer. This helped them build and reinforce strong perceptions as premium and innovative brands.
TA’s fleet on the other hand primarily consistent of narrow body jets, which did not have the required real estate. Traditionally marketing at TA focused on building name brand awareness and perceptions of the brand also centered on functional attributes like cheap prices, discounts and destinations.
Emerging market growth meant the centre of gravity in the travel industry was moving from west to east. TA was well positioned to capture this growth thanks to their central hub and narrow body fleet. With more than 80% of the world’s population is within 8 hours of Istanbul. Narrow body jets could land in smaller airports in emerging second tier cities (widebody’s could not) and fly with higher daily frequencies thanks to quicker turnarounds.
We positioned Turkish Airlines as the cosmopolitan super-connector, the smarter, faster and friendlier way to fly to and from the emerging world. We took the diverse, tolerant and cosmopolitan spirit of Istanbul and infused it across the experience. That way we could create a more inclusive space where people from all backgrounds could feel at home
Cloaked for client confidentiality
Saying it loud and proud
Directly translating our positioning into ambitious brand advertising aired during the Super Bowl
Dressing the part
Delightfully different means welcoming passengers with a fashion forward dress sense that channels authentic local touches
Rotating signature dish from a variety of cuisines served by speciality trained chefs
See the city
Complimentary 3 hour, half or full-day Istanbul tours for transfer passengers, covering the key attractions in the city
Stay the night
Transfer passengers with layovers exceeding 8 hours could expect complimentary accomodation in partnering hotels across Istanbul
Revenue: Since the launch of the new strategy in 2013, revenue has skyrocketed 131% to $12.85 billion
Load factor (how full the average plane is): Rose three percentage points higher to 82%
Passengers: Increase of 155% to 75 million, 16 million more than nearest Gulf rival Emirates with 59 million pax
International passengers transferring at Istanbul: Increased 201% from 2013 levels to 23.4 million
Turkish Airlines now flies to more 310 destinations, the most in the world
“Emirates cancelled most of its remaining orders for the Airbus A380 super-jumbo. Sir Tim Clark, the president of Emirates, hopes that a partnership with flydubai, another Emirati airline that flies only narrow-body jets, will help it to preserve market share. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Gulf carriers are reciprocating Turkish’s earlier compliments.”
Manager, Brand Strategy
* Work completed while at Prophet, London