Spotlight on JetBlue
JetBlue may not be the first name that comes to mind when thinking about how brands are responding to the pandemic. In fact, criticism of the company has been severe and extensive. David Neeleman, JetBlue’s founder, has been an outspoken critic of lockdowns, urging an economic reopening, in a way that resonates as off-brand. A whistleblower complaint last month revealed Neeleman’s involvement, through partial funding, of a COVID-19 Report, which purported a lower death rate than evidence supports—one on par with the flu (the results have since been revised). These actions are in contradiction to JetBlue’s core value—a commitment to humanity—and represent, in part, how short-sighted or self-motivated actions can be when something valuable is threatened.
Brands should be held accountable, and as irresponsible as it is to ignore the mistakes, it’s equally irresponsible to miss the larger picture. JetBlue has made an incredible impact on so many with their response to COVID-19, completely in-line with their brand values. Historically, JetBlue has been vocal about their fallibility, taking ownership over wrongdoings with a commitment to improving and doing better.
A clear example dates back to 2007 when JetBlue created a comprehensive Bill of Rights for its customers. The decision followed a series of winter storms in February of the same year, that forced over 1,700 flight cancellations, leaving some customers stuck on a plane, grounded for 11 hours. Previously, JetBlue’s promise to its customers was to never cancel a flight as part of their mission to be the dependable, trusted airline—an aspirational goal that proved to be flawed. Placing customer experience as the most valuable asset, JetBlue clearly understood the oversight and immediately began revising their policies, leading to the creation of the Customer Bill of Rights. The policies were a first for the airline business, showcasing an intent focus on humanity and a dedication to fairness.
As part of their COVID-19 relief efforts, JetBlue launched the Healthcare Hero, which will honor 100,000 healthcare workers with roundtrip flight certificates for two to anywhere JetBlue flies. They have also participated in the, Clap Because We Care Movement, with multiple low altitude flyover salutes across U.S. cities that are suffering.
To date, JetBlue has flown thousands of medical professionals to destinations to help in relief efforts, transported Red Cross personnel to areas requiring disaster relief, distributed thousands of books and online educational resources to children in need, flown 2,400lbs of cargo containing CPAP devices to New York and partnered with the Ricky Martin Foundation, Project Hope and Charity Stars to fly personal protective equipment (PPE) to Puerto Rico. Other donations have included cots, blankets, and amenity kits for hospitals and food items to underserved communities.
It’s the kind of response that we have come to expect from the brand, dating back to 2007 and earlier, as an airline founded on the principles of low-cost airfare and high-quality experience for all people. In the last week, these core brand values have been reinforced when JetBlue became the first airline to announce the closure of middle seats on all flights. As states begin to reopen and lift lockdown orders, the increase in air travel will complicate social distancing measures and JetBlue made the early decision to place customer safety ahead of profit, even when the entire industry is fighting to remain in business. Today, the stakes are different and getting it right is crucial.
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About Brand Acts of Kindness®
Brand Acts of Kindness® is a series from Carpenter Group that spotlights companies across industries that are living their brand values in addressing the unprecedented challenges facing the world today.
The series initially headlined companies assisting healthcare workers and first responders, as well as communities, businesses and families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We also highlight brands taking the lead in supporting social and racial justice, LGBTQ rights, sustainability and the environment. Their stories show how innovation, resolve and action, built on a solid value proposition, can both strengthen a brand and help create a better world.
About Carpenter Group
Carpenter Group is an independent, woman-owned strategic branding, messaging and marketing communications firm that has delivered results-driven solutions to financial, professional services and technology firms for 30+ years.
Our broad cross-discipline experience enables us to craft brand messaging and carry it through to the channels that most effectively connect with our clients’ target audience, from editorial content to advertising to event marketing and more.