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Tata Group's Air India Transformation Plan: Brand makeover and advertising activities speed up

Air India is working with various ad agencies as Tata Group starts the process of consolidating its entire airline business under Air India.

By  Storyboard 18Jan 9, 2023 2:57 PM
Tata Group's Air India Transformation Plan: Brand makeover and advertising activities speed up
Air India's transformation plan is titled “Vihaan.AI”, which in Sanskrit signifies the dawn of a new era, with identified objectives for Air India over the next 5 years. (Representational image via Unsplash)

The Tata Group is gearing up to consolidate its entire airline business under Air India. According to media reports, the company is aiming to wrap up the consolidation process by 2024. The merger of Vistara and Air India will be a multiple-step process and will be subject to various regulatory approvals.

According to a Moneycontrol report, Air India will first complete the merger of AirAsia India with Air India Express by the end of 2023. In November 2022, Air India announced that it has signed agreements to complete the acquisition of 100 percent shareholding in AirAsia India.

The company, recently, onboarded London-based brand and design consultancy firm Futurebrands to design Air India’s new branding strategy. Futurebrands has worked on rebranding exercises for brands like American Airlines and the British luxury auto brand Bentley. In ad agency circles there are whispers that the agency is planning to create a new mascot for the brand. Currently, Air India is not using its iconic mascot the Maharajah in any of its commercials.

According to multiple sources Storyboard18 spoke to, Air India is also working closely with independent marketing agency Gozoop Group for some creative campaigns. Crayons Advertising is also rumoured to be collaborating with the brand. The company hasn't initiated any formal agency pitch yet.

Earlier this year the airline company hired former MakeMyTrip executive Sunil Suresh as its chief marketing officer. Seasoned marketer Colin Neubronner, who has worked with brands like Singapore Airlines and Jet Airways also joined the company's brand team.

Air India's transformation plan is titled “Vihaan.AI”, which in Sanskrit signifies the dawn of a new era, with identified objectives for Air India over the next 5 years.

In January 2022, Storyboard18 spoke to several brand experts to understand what brand Air India needs for a brand overhaul.

Air India has gone through a tumultuous journey, scaling new highs till the 1970s when it was looked up to by other airlines, having even trained the Singapore Airlines staff. Its brand mascot, the Maharajah, once was a metaphor for Air India service—one could expect to be treated like royalty. However, once JRD Tata, the founder and then still chairman of Air India, was ingloriously removed from the chairman’s role, on February 1, 1978, the fateful fall of the airline started.

Despite its multiple shortfalls in terms of lack of high-quality in-flight service, aircraft shortcomings and lack of technology advancement (such as on-board entertainment), Air India still manages to piggyback on its glory days, said brand experts.

Senior advertising and media executives believe that the company needs to look at amalgamating past glory and future-led technologies to make Air India a competitive homegrown but truly world-class brand. It’s going to be interesting times for the aviation category as brand Air India plans for a new take-off.

First Published on Dec 8, 2022 2:22 PM