Mullen ressurects almost-famous fast talker to shill for Jet Blue.
April 22, 2011
Early returns on the new Jet Blue campaign from Mullen, featuring the second coming of pseudo-famous fast talker, John Moschitta, have been mixed. Yes, the spots are entirely derivative of director, Joe Sedelmaier’s famous campaign for Federal Express. But so what? Ain’t anything new since the Romans. It’s obvious Mullen was riffing on the old Fed Ex campaign. In addition to bringing back the speed-talking Moschitta (still good at his stupid human trick by the way), the films were made in exactly the same way as Joe’s work: muted colors, locked down camera, comic casting, etc. And guess what? The technique still works. Funny then. Funny now.
As discussed before on this blog, The negative connotations associated with copycat creative is less controversial than it used to be, say back when Sedelmaier was making films. Back then it was called plagiarism. Now we just call it ‘building on’ or ‘mashing.’ Besides, the argument follows, most people under 40 don’t have a recollection of the fast talking Fed Ex guy, so it’s new to them. What’s important is what consumers think of the campaign, not the opinions of jaded advertising critics. That’s the defense, whether we agree with it or not.
It is fair to criticize, however, the strategy behind the new campaign. Is “Mr. Non-Stop” a relevant shill for Jet Blue? Do funny spots about going to a bunch of places, etc, differentiate Jet Blue from Southwest, ATA or any number of other low-cost carriers? For a 21st century airline like Jet Blue, it does beg the question: why such an old-fashioned approach?
My guess is Jet Blue’s modern period is over; its credibility with early adapters collapsing when a slew of delays and service issues beset the airline a short time ago. Rather than attempting to woo back this crowd with design and technology promises, the client and agency go to market with humorous vignettes from a bygone era.
Whether ‘cheap, fast & easy’ is or isn’t a good strategy for them at least it’s not another haughty anthem vainly trying to emulate the brilliant United Airlines work from the 80’s and 90’s. If you’re going to be derivative don’t be boring. Thankfully, these spots are anything but.