If you’re flying to or from an African city, the chances are high that you’re traveling with Turkish Airlines. Since mid-2015, the world’s biggest airline by countries served now flies to more international destinations in Africa than any other – 44 cities since Bamako was added in June. The success of Turkish Airlines boils down to its startling array of ‘city-pair’ options, reasonable prices and great service, and its host country’s push for soft power in Africa. But for us, Turkish Airlines’ brilliant marketing initiatives make this the airline brand in Africa to watch.
For all its success building a great route map over the last five years, Turkish Airlines understood that a strong brand image would be the foundation for customer recognition and loyalty.
For all its success building a great route map over the last five years, Turkish Airlines understood that a strong brand image would be the foundation for customer recognition and loyalty. Beyond the product, a brand should deliver “emotional, self-expressive, and social benefits”, and that’s where Turkish Airlines has distinguished itself.
The airline rightly focuses on video – its YouTube channel is very prolific – to impart a sense of excitement and discovery about its African city destinations. In March Turkish Airlines launched the Fly Africa video campaign, consisting of the Fly Africa ad and a series of ‘making-of’ mini documentaries featuring downhill skaters in Cape Town, filming at Victoria Falls and the unlikely sight of a hippo trying to eat a drone.
Why do we (and 9 million other YouTube viewers) love Fly Africa? It shows the exotic nature of the airline’s African destinations without depicting a tourist cliché. Its unusual imagery captures the adventure of travel for the region’s growing consumer class. It appeals both to passengers that live in Africa and those that want to travel there. And its focus on children creates an aspirational and youthful view of travel that Turkish Airlines has cultivated through many of its video marketing campaigns.
Turkish Airlines is competing against the Middle East’s super-connectors (especially Emirates, which is Africa’s biggest carrier by seat capacity) and African airlines (in particular Ethiopian Airlines, which has focused on growing its Asian routes). In an expanding market, the marketing of Turkish Airlines is worlds apart from the competition.