In national ad push, Allegiant aims to poke holes in competitors’ ‘free soda’

David Becker / AP

In this Thursday, May 9, 2013, photo, Allegiant Air flight attendant Chris Killian prepares his passengers for the Laredo, Texas-bound flight before it pushes back from the terminal at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

Allegiant Air

In this Thursday, May 9, 2013, photo, an Allegiant Air Capt. Bret Whalen, left, discusses the flight plan with flight attendants Antron Johnson, center, and John Taylor before their flight to Laredo, Tex, at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. While other U.S. airlines have struggled with the ups and downs of the economy and oil prices, tiny Allegiant Air has been profitable for 10 straight years. Launch slideshow »

Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air launched its first national television advertising campaign Tuesday, delivering a message that explains its controversial pricing philosophy.

The ad is running through September on six channels, with most spots airing in the early evening and during prime time.

A company spokesman did not disclose the cost of the buy, but said it was “modest.”

“We’re trying to tell people that every little thing that we do that makes us who we are is intentional,” Allegiant spokesman Brian Davis said. “And what we do intentionally keeps our prices low.”

The ad, called “Here’s the Deal,” is shot aboard one of Allegiant’s new Airbus A320 jets and has a spokesman explaining that a “free soda” on most airlines is a part of a passenger’s ticket price. But on Allegiant, the ad says, “you only pay for and get what you want.”

Critics have ripped Allegiant for nickel-and-diming customers with various ancillary fees, but the company responds that the practice enables the company to keep its base fares low.

Allegiant, which now has flights to 99 cities, has purchased print and television ads before, but most have been market specific. Few Allegiant television ads have appeared in the Las Vegas market since most of the airline’s focus is persuading residents of small cities to fly the airline to Las Vegas or its Arizona and Florida resort destinations.

“Based on our growth, it’s now significantly cheaper to buy nationally and we felt it was time to address all of our customers as one national audience,” Davis said.

In addition to focusing on ticket pricing, the ad directs prospective customers to its Internet site since Allegiant doesn’t allow its flight information to be placed on travel websites like Expedia and Orbitz.

Allegiant contracted with San Francisco-based Peñabrand to produce the commercial and Ocean Media of Huntington Beach, Calif., for the ad buys. Ocean Media has developed a media analytics program to determine which channels and what time slots produce the most traffic to Allegiant’s website.

Currently, the ad is being shown on the HGTV home improvement channel, the Do It Yourself network, ABC Family, Travel Channel, Lifetime Movie and Destination America, but Davis said buys could be adjusted through the month based on the analytics and Ocean Media’s feedback.

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