“Orders for business jets nose-dived after lawmakers pilloried leaders of Detroit’s Big Three auto makers for flying corporate planes to Washington to seek a government bailout. Now, one jet maker is striking back, reported J. Lynn Lunsford in the Feb. 10 edition of The Wall Street Journal.
In a campaign to begin Feb. 11, Cessna Aircraft Co. will run an ad that says, “Pity the poor executive who blinks,” and gets rid of the company jet. “One thing is certain: true visionaries will continue to fly,” the Journal article said.
With new orders for private jets evaporating and hundreds of existing customers postponing or canceling orders placed in better days, Cessna’s chairman and CEO, Jack Pelton, told the Journal: “We think it’s time the other side of the story be told, and that support be given to those businesses with the good judgment and courage to use business aviation to not only help their businesses survive the current financial crisis, but more quickly forge a path toward an economic upturn.”
Cessna isn’t fighting the trend alone. “Do you really want a major executive to show up three hours late to a big meeting because of [airline] flight delays?” asked Robert Baugniet, director of corporate communications for Gulfstream Aerospace.
In its ad, scheduled to run in national publications including The Wall Street Journal, Cessna states: “Timidity didn’t get you this far. Why put it in your business plan now?” Instead of retreating, the company argues, companies should adjust and make sure they are flying the right type of aircraft.
While other jet builders and aviation alphabet groups have mounted efforts to counter the negative publicity given to business aviation by politicians and major media, Cessna is the sole business aircraft manufacturer, so far, to take on the negative publicity with a high-profile ad campaign. A spokesman for Cessna said the company has “redirected more than half of our promotional budget to this campaign.”
“We’re all trying to battle misperception,” said Ed Bolen, president and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association, which represents business aircraft owners. “The vast majority of the time, these jets are flying offices, where people can conduct business and have confidential discussions that could never occur on a commercial jetliner,” he said.