JMC is to Thomas Cook what First Direct is to Midland Bank. So runs the thinking behind the positioning of JMC, the new business created by bringing together Thomas Cook’s tour operators and airlines.
JMC is the third biggest such holiday company, with 2200 staff, 28 aircraft, 584 resorts and three million holidays sold a year. Over the next five years it plans to spend £200m on turning the company into the market leader, putting half of that figure into a younger fleet of aircraft. JMC has a raft of innovations in the pipeline and expects to shake up the traditionally complacent package holiday sector.
“The whole industry has been crying out for someone to take a lead,” says Enterprise IG senior creative director Franco Bonadio. This is his first project to launch since he joined the consultancy from Landor Associates last July.
It is difficult to distinguish between JMC’s competitors – they all have similar names, either unmemorable associative monikers such as First Choice and Airtours, or names of founders like Thomson. These companies, branded in red, yellow and blue, dominate the sector.
Acronyms are normally no-go areas for new companies, but JMC, which stands for John Mason Cook who was Thomas’ son (a name thought up by Charles Trevail who has since joined FutureBrand) did very well in research. “We wanted to create something with bite to it,” says Bonadio, and cites Gap and KFC as inspiration.
JMC is intended to be “more youthful and innovative” than its parent company, according to JMC marketing director Lyndsey Allardyce, and this is reflected in its fresh appearance. Hence the comparison with Midland and its younger brand First Direct.
In order for JMC to break completely with the usual industry look, Enterprise IG’s first suggestion was for the brand to be in fluorescent pink. “But it was a bit too risky for them,” says Bonadio. Bright green was chosen instead.
“We tried to make the logo like a fashion marque,” which could extend on to merchandise, says Enterprise IG creative director John Clarke. Clarke and Bonadio worked on the project with Enterprise IG designers Johnny Lang, David Jenkinson and Kevin Patience. The group won the job in competition against Interbrand Newell and Sorrell and WPP stablemate Coley Porter Bell.
The airline branding has unusually been extended on to the aircraft engines. Rather than dumbing down, Enterprise IG wanted to create a brand which had parity with other airlines. Ironically, Bonadio worked on the busier Air 2000 identity while he was at Landor.
New ticket collection desks and check-in areas are being introduced using the bright green. On board, Clarke had fun with the meal tray mat descriptors, replacing the usual labels such as “menu” and “sugar” with “what’s cooking” and “one lump or two”.
Copy for the 19 brochures was made “less flowery”, says Clarke, while keeping the balance between emotion and functionality. Consumers want to be inspired, but also want hard facts about holidays. Each cover picks up on the brand’s colouring. “We tried to bring humour into the brochures, and capture moments of delight,” says Bonadio.
Allardyce brought in Fitch to create the website – www.jmc-holidays.co.uk – which will offer holidays for sale on-line. She had worked with Fitch director of new media Steve Potts in the past. Fitch has just launched the Thomas Cook Holiday site.
A few established brands in the portfolio, such as Club 18-30 and skiing and sailing business Neilsons, remain, though Enterprise IG has redesigned Neilsons’ identity.
Enterprise IG is expecting JMC to take the travel industry by storm. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say, so JMC must wait to see how its competitors react. Rumours already abound in the travel industry – denied, in fact by the company – that Airtours is planning to review the look of its UK airline, currently branded as Airtours. Perhaps the introduction of JMC is just the beginning.