Sunday, May 10, 2009

Monetizing US Foreign Policy?

Don't get me wrong. I love clever marketing campaigns as much as the next guy - probably more - but I don't know about Orbitz's launch today. Delighted as I am that an organization is leading the fight to open up US travel opportunities to Cuba, I'm not so sure that offering $100 off a future Orbitz Cuba package to petition signers is the way to go. It reminds me of Memorial Day commercials - "They went to war, so we could bring you Levi's jeans at 30% off!". Hmmm, US foreign policy and commercialism - not thrilled with the mix. According to a recent poll conducted by Orbitz-Ipsos:

67% of Americans say that they would support a policy that would allow all Americans to travel to Cuba.
32% of Americans would strongly support such a policy that would allow all Americans to travel to Cuba.
Only 23% say that they would oppose lifting these restrictions for Americans traveling to Cuba (only 13% would strongly oppose it).
72% agree that expanding travel and tourism from the U.S. to Cuba would have a positive impact on the day-to-day lives of the Cuban people.
Just 20% feel that allowing Americans to travel to Cuba would not positively impact Cubans in this way

All strong points for policy-makers to know. But what's up with the check box to receive Orbitz news and deals on the petition-page? And how about cross-merchandising its site, as the source for Cuba travel info. I believe these merchandising initiatives may reduce the importance of the message to our policy-makers when they see Orbitz merchandising the petition. As a marketer, kudos to Orbitz for building a potent database of folks interested in travelling to Cuba...but too opportunistic for a petition drive, in my opinion. A more genuine petition approach would have been free from all commercial opportunities. Food for thought from this Mother on this Mother's Day.

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