He’s mad as hell and he can do nothing about it
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Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Forget the unctuous ra-ra letter to the staff.
Forget the politics, the rueful expressions of sadness and the wistful reminiscences.
That was all PR.
Richard Branson loathes what Alaska Airlines is doing to Virgin America, which is killing the brand by 2019.
As the Seattle Times reports, he finally let his fury fly as he launched Virgin Atlantic’s new service to Seattle.
“When I sat down with Alaska, I genuinely believed they would treasure the brand, treasure the people, treasure the product,” he said.
Is he so naive? Surely not. One of the reasons Alaska bought Virgin was precisely to kill the brand.
Branson, however, claims that he thought “the last thing they would do would be to rip the heart out of it, which seems like what they are going to do.”
But Virgin America was popular and innovative. Alaska, too, is well respected. Why would it want to preserve something that many might feel is better than the parent brand?
Alaska, too, offered its own PR flim-flam.
“While the Virgin America name is beloved to many, we concluded that to be successful on the West Coast we had to do so under one name — for consistency and efficiency, and to allow us to continue to deliver low fares,” said Sangita Woerner, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of marketing.
You can hear the corporate clapping for the higher level of the claptrap.
Branson, though, has made all his money from knowing how to market a brand. This led him to ululate: “I just wonder what it was that Alaska bought. Why did they bother?”
They bothered because they’ve watched enough episodes of Game Of Thrones.
They bothered because they wanted to buy affection, just like any rich suitor would.
They bothered because they think people will easily forget Virgin America.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.