Tuesday, April 06, 2004

"Over time our friend came to wear the smile on his face that you see today"

So, two nice things happened today. First, I received a nice e-mail from fellow Chicago blogger FirstCity. Go check him out. We're on the same wavelength, but his is much better. It's got photos. Thanks, FirstCity!

Second, earlier this year (Feb. 10), I blogged about the Alaska Airlines Eskimo logo. That same day I e-mailed the corporate p.r. office and asked about the history of the logo and if it was in fact an Eskimo. They responded today! And, their response is why I love non-fiction more than fiction. Life is so rich - you can't write this stuff - the Gay Nineties Look!?

"Sorry it took so long to respond to your request. The person who normally monitors this website left the company.


The Eskimo on the tail of our aircraft is the result of an evolution of graphics dating back to the early seventies. At that time we were studying a new look for the airline that would reposition us from the highly promotional "Gay Nineties" look, which was very successful with tourists, to a more modern and businesslike airline that would appeal to the frequent business traveler.

We recognized we could not lose that aspect of the carrier that was uniquely "Alaskan." The difficulty of finding one image that suited the carrier and the state soon became apparent. Finally, four distinct images were chosen to represent the history and the regions of Alaska. The Eskimo for the Arctic and its people; the Russian spires for the early history of Alaska's development; the Totem for Southeast Alaska and its Native culture; and finally, the Sourdough for Alaska's gold rush days.

As the airline progressed, a further definition of our public imagery was studied. Lippcott and Margolis undertook a massive image awareness campaign and attitude survey that eventually led to the conclusion that four images were too many for any company to try to project, especially a small regional airline. The study concluded that a single image would have much greater success in positioning Alaska Airlines with the business traveler, and would have a much greater chance of retention.

Several designs were reviewed in the middle seventies to address this concern. Eventually the Eskimo was settled on as the most representative and uniquely Alaskan image, and one in which we had already established a franchise. The original Eskimo image portrayed a rather serious fellow, but over time our friend came to wear the smile on his face that you see today.

Today's look now represents the airline’s Alaskan heritage, including the spirit of its people, the blue of its skies and waters, the green of its forested land, and the white of its snow-capped mountains."

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