Air India Changes Their Mascot To A Hipster Boy Taking A Selfie

Filed Under: Air India

There’s no denying that Air India has 99 problems, from rats on a plane to literally scrapping a brand new 787 for parts.

However, if you ask me, their mascot was one of the few things that wasn’t wrong with the airline.

Via The Times Of India:

Air India’s Maharajah, an iconic portly figure in regal garb and hands folded in namaskar, is being offloaded. Passengers are now being welcomed by a new and younger version of the mascot, sans turban with spiky hair, wearing jeans and sneakers. While the trademark twirling moustache remains, even that’s been cut down to size.

Since AI is symbolized by the Maharajah and could not be retired, the company has decided to tweak his image to make it more in tune with the changed times. “The new Maharajah is aligned with the modern times and with the new AI which is also trying to cut flab to become a lean commercial entity. The Maharajah now has a leaner, young, sporty and more dynamic look. He has made a big comeback in our ad campaigns. We are using 27 different pictures of the new Maharajah to showcase some of the destinations we fly to,” a senior AI official who handled the Maharajah’s makeover said. Among his avatars, the new Maharajah will be seen as a fighting fit member of the Indian cricket team wowing everyone with his stroke play.

Here’s the transformation:

Photo credit The Times Of India

Um, wow…

Really the most insightful aspect of this is just how decisions are made at the airline:

In his first meeting with aviation ministry heads on June 21, 2014 — less than a month after taking office — Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that the aam aadmi must replace the Maharajah as the mascot of Indian aviation. It came on the back of his emphasis that the ministry formulating policies to make flying within the reach of the common man and not limited only to the rich.

When a country’s prime minister is the one dictating the marketing plan for an airline, well, that’s how you know you’ve got a problem…

What do you think of the Maharajah’s transformation? Useful to create the perception that flying is attainable, or just plain dumb?

  1. Think the PM had a decent idea but Air India’s ad agency made it a dumb one. From a Maharaja to a Pimp look-a-like.
    Other iterations are way more acceptable.

  2. That reminds me, you were supposed to try out Air India first class way back in June/July. Whatever happened to that!

  3. AI has bigger problems that require immediate attention, too many to mention. The mascot looks like a cheesy royalty free stock image.

  4. Air India should just be privatized or shut down. As an Indian government-run airline it is irrelevant in today’s aviation market.

  5. The old mascot had such a stylized body (proportions and such) that the very large mustache looked fine. The new guy has such a more realistic body that the mustache looks quite odd.

  6. 1. I would absolutely read a review of Air India F/J service.

    2. I would also read a review of everything that’s wrong with Air India.

    3. At first I couldn’t put my finger on it but Dave is absolutely correct. Even if the total area of the mustache is less the relative size seems much more absurd and incongruous. Whoever came up with this doesn’t seem to have much in the way of artistic education.

  7. Looks like there are some other changes coming soon to AI. They are planning to cut down the cost by 227 million dollars in the next financial year.

    “The airline said in a statement late on Sunday that it would identify “surplus staff”, freeze contractual hiring and discontinue flights which are not meeting fuel cost targets, to reduce its variable spending of Rs 14,000 crore by a tenth.

    Restrictions on staff travel and hospitality have also been introduced, Air India said.”

  8. This sort of tinkering never goes well for AI. IIRC a few years back they tried to get rid of the architectural detailing around the windows and customers complained and it came back. I predict the old maharajah will be back before the end of the year. In the meantime, as people have already pointed out, AI will still be loss making, badly run and subject to government interference.

  9. Bad clip art image. Wow. Reminds me of clients who let their nephews design their logos because they took one course in college and are now experts in creative. Why hire an expert when your dog or your nephew can do it.

  10. @Sanjiv

    Problem is not government owned, but detailed control by politicians and probably civil servants.

    Singapore Airlines are majority owned by Temasek Holdings aka Sing government just as an example. Leave detail control to people who know what they do and things work much better, and you still have the benefit of increased tourism, faster travel for businesses and you still generate local jobs.

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