Were you part of the Piedmont family? Or at McKinney Silver & Rockett way back when? Please leave a message or comment at the bottom of this post. Or email me directly.
In 1984, Piedmont Airlines was named Air Transport World’s Airline of the Year. Tagged “The Up And Coming Airline,” Piedmont tapped into the civic pride of the mid-Atlantic and South as the little airline that could. For several years, it was the only profitable large airline, as competitors such as Delta, United, American and US Air lost huge amounts.
Piedmont was quite literally the airline of the 80s. Sadly (for a lot of people) it was folded into the less profitable US Air in 1989.
It was a great account for a young copywriter. I was forced to crank out copious amounts of work: small-space print ads, the occasional larger ad, and radio commercials on a weekly basis. Most of it was strictly tactical: announcing new flights that usually involved small Piedmont markets to larger destinations.
Steve Basset once even talked me into writing the Piedmont flight schedule… that’s the cruel sense of humor that today produces ads for Geico and WalMart.
It was a great lesson in how a large account should be run. Chick McKinney had assembled a wonderful and deep creative staff, including some of the best print art directors in the business. My partner on most of the work on this page was Danielle Renfer; the creative director was Michael Winslow.
It was also a great lesson in the value of small-market agencies. The home-grown staff at McKinney Silver & Rockett of Raliegh, North Carolina, helped Piedmont outrun its bigger rivals with their big city ad agencies. For years, McKinney’s work for Piedmont was easily the industry’s best.
It’s no coincidence that the best airline advertising since then has come from Southwest Airlines and their agency, GSDM — from Austin, another small market agency. (NOTE: For Piedmont’s history, check out JetPiedmont.com.)
Note: Hey ex-McKinneyites and Piedmont fans – get Barrett’s Book updates via Twitter, at @barrettrossie