This is an ad that communicates a lot about Alaska Airlines without actually saying anything about Alaska Airlines.
The ad features celebrity endorser, Russell Wilson, quarterback for last year’s Super Bowl champion and this year’s playoff contender, Seattle Seahawks.
The success of a celebrity endorsement depends on three things: (1) how people feel about the celebrity, (2) the strength of the connection created between the celebrity and the brand, and (3) the meaning of the connection, that is, what the connection tells people about the brand.
People, especially people in the Pacific Northwest, know and like Russell Wilson.
The entire ad illustrates the connection between Russell Wilson and Alaska Airlines. As “Chief Football Officer” and the star of the ad, Wilson comes to personify the brand.
The strength of the ad is in the meaning of the connection between Wilson and Alaska Airlines, the inferences viewers draw about Alaska Airlines from the Wilson endorsement. The drills are obviously ridiculous so viewers work to figure out what Alaska Airlines is trying to tell them with this ad. The possibilities are many, all good for Alaska Airlines. Wilson was drafted 75th overall, yet has led his team to the championship. Like Russell Wilson, Alaska Airlines exceeds expectations. Like Wilson, Alaska Airlines is always prepared. Like Wilson, Alaska Airlines puts in extra effort to give customers what they want. Like Wilson and like this ad, Alaska Airlines is not your typical stogy airline. Alaska Airlines likes to have a little fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Viewers will believe what they “figure out” when they would likely doubt an ad’s claim.
A celebrity endorsement that works.