Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The World’s Funniest Airline? Ha!

Seriously, have you ever heard a pilot crack jokes during the flight? Do you think flying is funny? Kulula Airlines wants you to laugh in the clouds.

Information on their history is vague. Wikipedia states that the airline started flights in August of 2001 and they’re owned by British Airways franchise Comair. At least we learn a little more via their mission statement; in a nutshell, it’s safety first, simplicity and hey, lighten up!

However, this is an airline that has taken on a most casual twist in a serious people mover business, going beyond the happy, oopsy daisy flight attendants at Virgin that hand out ice cream bars and little rubber duckys.

The “good humour” goes much further. It’s all intended for you to have a good laugh when traveling. And who doesn’t need that? Flights not on time, people pushing to board  (what IS the rush?), being interrogated like you’re entering Fort Knox, taking off your shoes, waiting on lines…need I say more? You already know how unpleasant flying can be.

So, what’s so different about Kulula?  Several unusual twists contribute to their unique branding strategy.

Their planes LOOK funny; actually, the paint job does. One variation cheerfully depicts every element on the plane you need to know about, including “The Big Cheese”. Suspicion arose in 2010 that these planes aren’t real; however, there is evidence on a few sites that indeed, these planes do exist. Their cars look funny too:

The story gets better. Passengers are treated to some rather unusual commentary when the crew communicates with them. Oh, they get the information they need, and much more:
"Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants."
"If you are caught smoking, you will be asked to leave the aircraft".
"Your seat cushion can be used for flotation; and in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments."

Sadly, one review was found where the passenger complained that the humour was toned down. They speculated that perhaps they have flown the airline too much and perhaps have become accustomed to a certain level of laugh factor.

On a positive note, Kulula’s website is one of the cleanest and easiest to navigate that I’ve ever seen. Helpful information, such as the weight of carry-ons is right on the home page; how many times have you gone fishing for that information on a major airline site? The question and answer page, “Flying 101”, put it straight: “We're gonna attempt to answer all those niggly questions that you have everytime you fly.” Have never seen an airline use such laid-back language before!

They have a presence on Facebook and Twitter too.  Their Twitter account appears to be a magnet for complaints; each one is cheerfully responded to.

Unfortunately for us in the States, and Europe and Asia, Kulula only flies to a few cities within South Africa, Johannesburg and Cape Town to name just two. Looks like folks are clamoring for them to fly to London, though.

Oh, as to be expected, their ads are funny. For a sample, click here.

So the question is…does Kulula really exist? Is it a local marketing experiment that may perhaps expand to a more well known airline? Is South Africa simply a test market? Or are all those planes actually the result of someone who is well rehearsed in Photoshop?

The good news is…Kulula is real. Kudos for having a most original brand that invokes excitement and smiles. They may be the only airline that has accomplished that. Kulula understands differentiation; entertaining us while maintaining all those rather somber elements that being an airline requires. Are you ready to pack your bags and fly with them?

Kulula’s very sensible mission statement 

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Shannon Grissom said...


Louis Columbus said...

The video is hilarious! Maverick on a Moped, brilliant video ad featuring a nice Indian cut of the Top Gun soundtrack. Looks like a great airline. Thanks for sharing this!

Gerry Wendel said...

Had a blast digging up the information for this future piece of pop culture!