Few things strike more fear in the hearts of fliers than the sight of a small child boarding their aircraft. For parents, the prospect of a long-haul trip with a baby is even worse, knowing their precious carry-on could release a blood-curdling screech at any moment.
So when was the last time you actually wanted a baby to cry on a plane?
In a new online ad from JetBlue highlighting the stress that such parents face, the airline turned the tray tables on its passengers.
The spot, which was filmed during a New York to Long Beach flight last month and released this week ahead of Mother’s Day, features a JetBlue flight attendant promising fliers that every time a baby cried during the cross-country flight, they’d receive a discount off their next airline ticket. If travelers were witness to four sobs, their next ticket would be free.
Perhaps surprising no one, by the flight’s end, the babies delivered enough crying to earn free tickets for all.
The ad, which was developed by Boston firm MullenLowe, is being promoted with the #Flybabies hashtag. It garnered well over 466,000 page views in its 48 hours online. It’s part of a string of ads that have been developed by the firm to evoke more compassion among travelers, said JetBlue spokesman Morgan Johnston.
“We’re hoping to inspire that conversation and know that while it may be tough for you to sit next to a crying kid, we hope you can think about the stress that parent is going through,” he said. “And maybe we can be a little bit more supportive of moms.”
Johnston said the ad wasn’t designed to stoke ticket sales. But it’s clear that it is never a bad thing for a company to get a nice social media boost around Mother’s Day, the third-largest retail holiday in the country.
This year, the National Retail Federation anticipates that Americans will spend $21.4 billion on their moms and are increasingly looking to buy “gifts of experience” — so airline tickets could perhaps fit the bill. (They’ll also be picking up gadgets for their mothers, which might be why Apple released an online ad “Shot on iPhone—Mother’s Day” that focuses on the many ways mothers collect images of their kids with their smartphones.)
This isn’t MullenLowe’s first foray into creating a viral Mother’s Day campaign. In 2014, the team made a spot for the card company American Greetings that made the rounds online. In it, a hiring manager does a series of online interviews with potential candidates for a position that requires 24/7 availability, no time off, and tons of demanding hard labor. Calling it the “World’s Toughest Job,” he eventually revealed the real title of the position: Mom.
Johnston said that there was some trepidation among JetBlue staffers about launching the #Flybabies campaign — would the passengers pinch the babies or provoke them into a meltdown?
“Quite honestly we didn’t know what to expect,” he said.
But the response was overwhelmingly positive, with travelers “engaged in talking to the parents, making the parents feel comfortable, smiling at the babies,” he said. “Everyone was really kind of on board with this idea that it takes a plane.”
Janelle Nanos can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @janellenanos.