Scottevest vs Delta Update

Gear Diary has must-read additional reporting on this saga, including a rebuttal to the notion floated by Delta that Scottevest baited them with an ad the company knew the airline would reject. Dan Cohen writes:

So, in part, I am writing this to set the record straight. Do I think Scott Jordan intentionally baited Delta into this for the sake of the media story and the resultant PR?

Absolutely not.

In fact, I don’t think it, I know it.

How do I know it? Because at my request Scott shared some of his internal business email exchanges with me. This was after I had agreed to report on the emails’ content without sharing specifics. These emails make it clear that Scott went into this media buy fully expecting that SCOTTEVEST would pay for their ad’s placement with the intention of reaping sales from the exposure of the full-page ad.

Scott was surprised when it was rejected, and he tried to rework the ad in a manner that would be more acceptable to Delta but would not compromise the way in which he has positioned his company and its core message. He was increasingly frustrated to find his ads rejected time and again.

The emails I saw make it clear that this was an honest exchange which occurred in real-time, and it went from bad to worse. This was not some plot by Scott to draw Delta into a pissing match, and it is surely not a scandal. [Emphasis in the original]

Cohen goes on to look at some specifics of Delta’s charge – namely that an ad provided to them by Scottevest as “representative” of their ad designs for submission was approved and then Scottevest submitted a different, Delta-specific ad. Cohen provides ample visual evidence to support Scottevest’s claim that the ad submission provided to get them pre-approved to advertise was merely representative, as it was one that had ran in Men’s Journal previously and clearly not designed to target the Delta audience. Cohen notes, “So many reasons were given as to why his ads were being denied that it began to smack of the “spaghetti approach”, where you throw enough possibilities out there and hope that one will stick.” This strikes me as about right. Delta’s responses have been shifting throughout this debacle for them and none really seem resonant. After all, while it’s clear that this fight has been a PR boon to Scottevest, you can’t blame them for taking advantage of Delta’s censorship (which not incidentally takes place to protect their ability to collect millions of dollars in checked baggage fees).

The path of this story is pretty standard: a big company is threatened by a small business and tries to muscle it out of the way. Normally this is a productive prospect for big companies. But when you’re dealing with a new media savvy small business who is trying to talk to a market of frustrated travelers, the dynamics are shifted. As a result, Delta is getting bad press and Scottevest is making a very big name for itself. Delta can continue to try to punch downward at Scottevest, but that isn’t likely to win them many customers anxious to pay for checking their luggage.


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