The Problem:

Make your brand as cool as your product

NetJets Europe wasn’t willing to change its name. But they were up for changing everything else if they could find a convincing strategy. They had 150 private jets and a steadily growing company. But the product was way cooler than the brand. Despite a hefty advertising budget, less than 20% of their prospects could recall seeing any of their ads. They were trying to project the image of a luxury brand in a very predictable way. The image was icy and distant, not warm and engaging. There was no joie de vivre, no emotional hook, no sense of adventure.

Many luxury brands fall in love with themselves and forget the people they need to connect with. NetJets made liberal use of limos pulling up to aircraft parked on slick tarmacs, aloof models with wraparound sunglasses, and long lists of bullet points. They were ticking off all the boxes but they didn’t make anyone notice or care.

“We knew we had a great story but it was not coming across. We were missing the spark.”

— Mark Booth, CEO, NetJets Europe

The Fix:

Work directly with decision makers
Put yourself in the right category

Sometimes an 180 degree turn will put you on the right flight path. The research told us that NetJets Europe was not even on the map for the vast majority of people who could afford them and would consider them. Instead of trying to poach price-sensitive customers from other private carriers, the job now was to go after the much bigger numbers of airline passengers who believe that first or business class is as good as it gets.


Once we knew our target, we had to figure out the message that would make the lights go on and drive all of the communications for 20 countries and 8 languages. The tagline we settled on — Your Own Private Airline — solved the problem at a number of different levels. When we tested it, a very high percentage of our target audience told us that it meant the safety of a big airline minus all the hassles of airline travel.

“They did it the old-fashioned way. The process was low-tech, it was thorough, they developed a people-to-people understanding of the business. They worked their asses off. Then they created beautiful work. That’s where great creativity comes from.”

— Mark Booth

Our client was a billion dollar division of Berkshire Hathaway. We were a small team of writers and designers. What made all the difference was the client’s belief in the importance of branding and our ability to pick up the phone at any point and talk to the people who were running the show.