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Interview: Why Cathay sees marketing as 'great investment' during economic uncertainty

Interview: Why Cathay sees marketing as 'great investment' during economic uncertainty

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Cathay Pacific was one of the few major airlines that was hit hard by the pandemic, due to traffic restrictions and a significant drop in passenger demand. Entering the post-pandemic era, we’ve seen Cathay reviving its business with  more focus on building new relationships with consumers and repositioning the brand with new campaigns and projects.

Whether it’s the latest rebranding of its cargo business, or the brand campaign that encouraged everyone to “get themselves moving” earlier this year, Cathay is always trying to drive change both long and short term, Edward Bell (pictured), general manager, brand, insights and marketing communications, Cathay Pacific told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE during an interview.

Don't miss: Cathay Pacific rebrands cargo business to explore possibilities of its shipments

“These campaigns among others have their own specific goals which are to build awareness and drive engagement and involvement in our productions and services. But overall, each of these campaigns are also aiming to signal that Cathay is a progressive brand that wants to move forward together with the people we serve,” he added.

Envisioning to become one of the world’s greatest service brands, Bell said Cathay sees brand and marketing as essential to its business rather than a "nice to have" when things are good, especially during the time where marketing budgets are shrinking.

Sometimes, economic uncertainty is change and change sometimes brings opportunity to overtake competitors. In fact, Bell said the combination of theory, relevant examples, performance data and measurement help illuminate the situation for the budget holders. He added:

Bringing data to the story helps to understand the risks, making them manageable. Weak marketers make you feel that marketing is a gamble when in fact, in the right hands it is a great investment.

He also said that when marketers do the work to measure and articulate how brand and marketing in general adds value to the organisation, it is not hard to show that it is a tremendous driver of demand and profitable growth.

What makes great marketing?

As Hong Kong’s flagship carrier, Cathay has become a staple within the local aviation industry for many years. Bell said that in general the company has a high degree of “cut-through” which is created by its determination to be different from tired old airline narrative format that many airlines still use. He said:

If you aren’t doing new things, then people will not notice you and remember you. Competition is only a problem if you have nothing different to say or offer.

Another factor that Bell believed will make great marketing is emotion and truth. “Emotion only comes from truth, but this is very easy to say and hard to deliver. These things, delivered in an entertaining way are becoming rarer in the modern world but the most powerful brands and most resilient businesses exist on a bedrock of emotion,” he added.

When asked which channels of marketing are still key in today’s dynamic business landscape, Bell said consumers are too reliant on mobile media and under utilising large formats – be they outdoor digital tv or other out-of-home.

The problem with mobile media is that people are not really that interested in commercial messages in those moments so while this is where people are spending their time, media data shows that they are really skipping over much commercial content, Bell added.

This is not helped by the very small view ports and a soundless environment, he added.

But mostly, the one-to-one nature of digital media means that the messages feel smaller when compared to the 'one to many’ format that larger formats create, which in turn makes the brand feel much more popular and important.

Related articles:

Cathay Pacific's new brand campaign encourages passengers to 'get themselves moving'
Cathay Pacific dives deep into sustainability with creative woodcraft collection

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