Chattanooga Airport Renamed Chattanooga Airport

Chattanooga Airport Renamed Chattanooga Airport

From the "more money poorly spent" file: the Chattanooga Airport is going to change its name to. . . drumroll, please. . . "Chattanooga Airport."

According to a story in the Chattanooga (Tennessee) Times Free Press — soon to be renamed "Chattanooga Newspaper" — officials at the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport have been speaking with consultants and branding experts to come up with a new name for the airport. So they hired Big Communications, an advertising firm from Birmingham, Alabama.

They're the ones who came up with the catchy new title, and urged them to drop "Metropolitan" because it "creates simplicity."

Know what's even simpler? Coming up with that idea yourself.

I understand the need to hire a marketing agency for rebranding. After all, I own a social media agency. I understand the creative juice needed to come up with some great ideas to help your client make money and be a success. It involves work, creativity, and intelligence, or in my case, blind luck and copious amounts of flop sweat.

You have to be pretty on the ball, your mind has to be spinning all the time, and you never quite quit thinking about your clients or their problems, even the former ones.

But calling the Chattanooga Airport "Chattanooga Airport" just seems like cheating. It didn't take any effort at all. I mean, that name change is so easy, it's the kind of throwaway suggestion I'd make in a five minute conversation over the phone. I'd feel slimy if I actually accepted money for that piece of advice.

Not enough to turn it down, you understand. I mean, slimy guys have to eat too.

Admittedly there's not much you can do with an airport's name. It's a friggin' airport. There's nothing else to call them. Flying People Mover House? Air Travel Receiving Center? TSA Center of Fondling and Groping?

No, it's the airport, no matter where you are. Every city with a flying people mover house calls it "The Airport."

Even the Indianapolis International Airport is called "the airport" by everyone I know. If they want to be specific, they'll say "the Indianapolis Airport."

And if I ever have to pick anyone up at "the airport," they say I can just pick them up in front of "the terminal." Not the Colonel H. Weir Cook Terminal. Just "the terminal."

We all have a local frame of reference when we speak to other people about things that are common to our community, our town, our shared experiences. If a friend says they need a ride to "the airport," I'm pretty safe in assuming they didn't mean the Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport.

Admittedly, the Chattanooga Airport has some identity issues, since it is a regional airport. They have people from Dalton, Georgia; Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia; Cleveland, Tennessee; and other surrounding areas using the airport. And while Fort Oglethorpe is fun to say, I'm sure Fort Oglethorpe doesn't have an airport. But they might want to go to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Any Fort Oglethorpians who need a ride to the airport will ask their gullible friends, "can you give me a ride to the Atlanta airport?" Because they need to be specific.

But that's not my complaint. It's the fact that the Chattanooga Airport board hired a communications firm — a good communications firm, I'm sure — and paid them a few thousand dollars to be told "Chattanooga Airport."

It's not all bad though. They also came up with the tagline "get on board." It's supposed to be a multi-meaning tagline, not only representing the call for people to get on their planes, but recalling their railroad history ("Pardon me, boy, is that the Chattanooga choo-choo?"). It's also a call to other Chattanoogers to participate in the revitalization of the city, or to quit complaining about something, or some such thing that no one will quite remember.

It sure beats "quitcher whining and siddown!"

The problem with nearly all marketing is that it's created by professionals, me included, who are more impressed with their own cleverness than what the public really wants. And it's approved by committees who know nothing about marketing, but will make consensus-based (i.e. watered down) decisions based on what they think they know, but really have no clue about.

I don't disagree that Chattanooga Airport is probably the best name. After all, that's what the Chattanoogers have been calling it ever since the first plane touched down. But I don't see what sort of magic and expertise a marketing communications firm brought to the party in coming up with "Chattanooga Airport."

And I have a feeling the airport officials are going to think the same thing when they get "The Invoice."

My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available on, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My NEW book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing will be coming out in September. You can get it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or get it for the Kindle or Nook now.

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