Cessna, along with the rest of the bizjet industry, has been watching its orders tank in the last two months, and on Wednesday the company launched a counterattack to all the bad publicity that started with those auto execs flying to Washington, hats in hand, in their cushy corporate jets. A new Web site and an intensive ad campaign aim to make it OK again -- even imperative -- for the captains of industry to fly. "Today, we are demanding business leaders and managers work at their absolute peak to turn their companies, and our economy, around," said Cessna CEO Jack Pelton. "We think it's time the other side of the story be told, and that support be given to those businesses with the good judgment and courage to use business aviation to not only help their businesses survive the current financial crisis, but more quickly forge a path toward an economic upturn." Cessna is calling its new initiative "The Leadership Campaign," and the first ad says: "In today's corporate world, pity the poor executive who blinks. The good news is, in trying times like these, fortune tends to favor those who make bold, decisive moves." One blogger, at gawker.com, characterized the campaign as, "Only wimps give up their jets." Cessna, which has downsized its staff by about one-third due to the downturn, has allocated more than half its advertising budget to the campaign, according to The Wall Street Journal.
"The reality of business aviation is a far cry from the misconception of CEOs flying in large luxurious airplanes," Pelton said. "Most of these aircraft are fairly Spartan, designed for business, with a cabin about the size of a minivan or SUV interior." About 85 percent of business aircraft are used by small- or medium-sized companies, Pelton said, and the large majority of the passengers are middle managers and technicians. Most of the fleet consists of single- and twin-engine propeller and turboprop aircraft and small- or medium-sized jets, he said. The Cessna ad campaign will target national business newspapers and magazines as well as aviation trade publications. Click here to view a PDF of the first ad in the series.
AVweb Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles responds to Pelton's comments on the AVweb Insider blog