I was watching some of the incredible Federer-Nadal Wimbledon final today on NBC, and I saw this commercial for a product called NetJets come on:
Okay, I know it's fancy-schmancy Wimbledon at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, but is this seriously a commercial for private jets in the middle of a national television broadcast? Hmm, yeah. Seems like it! All right, then, let's check it out....
Tennis is getting more and more that players have to peak for the big occasions.
The footage here is of a Roger Federer-Pete Sampras exhibition match in New York. That is the opposite of a "big occasion." Roger Federer could have beaten 86-year old Pete Sampras if he'd flown coach to JFK from Zurich on an Aer Lingus prop jet in a seat that didn't recline next to a screaming baby with SARS. Maybe if he were swooping in to play the US Open final, then he'd require a nice rest on a private plane.
Flying is tough. From checking in to losing luggage -- you need all your stuff to compete.
When do you suppose the last time is that Roger Federer had to wait in a line to check in at an airport? Or the last time he lost his luggage? I'm quite certain Roger Federer could fly Swiss Air first class, or whatever major airline, and not have any trouble dealing with lines or luggage or any of that other common airport pitfalls. He doesn't need his own jet for this.
You can make a phone call, and you can get to the next place as quick as possible.
Another way to get to the next place as quickly as possible? Book a ticket on a commercial airline. Hell, fly first class if you want to. If you fly Singapore, the only dilemma you'll face is whether you want a flute of Krug or Dom before you take off.
It's the best thing I've ever done, owning a jet.
Doesn't it sound like they spliced these last two bits together from a longer statement? Like maybe Federer actually said, "Winning five straight Wimbledon titles is the best thing I've ever done, and it sure as hell beats owning a jet, especially one with a goofy name like NetJets."
So the ad itself is a little goofy and a little too Roger Federer-worshipping. But it's nothing compared to the sheer absurdity of making a commercial for private jets in the first place (much less airing it on national TV on a Sunday afternoon!) Does Rolls-Royce advertise during American Idol? Do you see Harry Winston buying time during the NCAA tournament? The answer is "no," because fewer than 1% of Americans can afford those types of luxuries. There's something to be said for keeping up the brand image, but go place an ad in Cigar Aficionado or somewhere -- ol' Johnny Lunchbox truly doesn't need to know the names of private jet providers.
Just how unaffordable is NetJets? Well, you get the privilege of owning a part of a plane, kind of like a flying timeshare, and it's.... well, it's a lot of money:
NetJets fractional interests start at $416,625 (price based on 2008 deliveries and subject to change) for a 1/16 interest (the equivalent of 50 hours of annual flying time) in a Hawker 400XP. Prices vary depending on the aircraft type you choose. Finance, lease and pre-owned alternatives are also available.
That's half a million dollars, folks. And that's before you add the one-time acquisition cost, monthly management fee, occupied hourly fee and potential fuel surcharges. All that for 50 hours of annual flying time. And you don't even own your own jet! All that money would probably buy you a couple hundred first class tickets, on nice airlines, too. But then again, you'd have to suffer the indignity of sitting in the general vicinity of another person.
Anyway, I'm glad R-Fed likes his private jet. I'm guessing he owns his own outright, since he has $41 million in prize money alone. How many qualified consumers or small businesses, in the middle of a recession, saw these commercials and thought, "Yeah, I do want a private jet. I'm sick of losing my luggage and all of that other crap. I need all my stuff to compete!" Who is this aimed at? Any of, like, a couple hundred people in the entire country? It's a pretty niche message, and one that I'm guessing we won't see again on TV anytime soon.