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United Phasing Out Ad Campaign

October 12, 1999

CHICAGO (AP) _ United Airlines is ditching its ``Rising″ advertising campaign, which never really got far off the ground as a successor to the legendary ``Friendly Skies″ pitch.

Introduced in 1997, the print and television ads portrayed the company as rising _ largely targeting business travelers disgruntled with the industry’s reputation for delays and mediocre food.

Company spokesman Matthew Triaca said Tuesday that the ads will be replaced in early 2000 by an as yet-undisclosed new campaign. Triaca said the ads in 1997 were ``appropriate at that time.″

In recent weeks, United has been phasing out ``Rising″ and relying more on the ``Rhapsody in Blue″ theme music that was developed earlier as part of the ``Friendly Skies″ campaign.

While Triaca wouldn’t comment on the ads’ failure to catch on, the short run for ``Rising″ clearly signals United’s dissatisfaction.

``Come Fly the Friendly Skies,″ concocted by the Chicago ad agency Leo Burnett, endured for 31 years until it was retired in 1996. That same year, United severed ties with Burnett, its longtime ad partner.

Industry watchers say the ``Rising″ campaign’s message was never very clear, and even United pilots and other employees couldn’t relate to it.

``I don’t think anyone felt that it connected anything,″ said James Higgins, a securities analyst for Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette in New York who called the ads odd. ``It didn’t resonate with anyone.″ he said.

The ads’ demise, he said, ``suggests that United perhaps isn’t making as much progress with business travelers as they hoped they would.″

Still, Higgins said, the move has little market significance for an airline where revenue and earnings have both been on the rise.

The ``Rising″ ads were developed by Fallon McElligott of Minneapolis, one of two major agencies used by United, based in suburban Elk Grove Township. The airline said both Fallon McElligott and Young & Rubicam Advertising in New York are developing new campaigns for the domestic market. Y&R handles international ads.

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