Greyhound: When Your Brand Is a Symbol of Awfulness

Dec 082011

Alec Baldwin has “apologized” for his boorish behavior on a recent American Airlines flight by slamming the airline’s service, claiming: “Filthy planes, barely edible meals,” making “air travel experience as inelegant as possible,” and making “flying a Greyhound bus experience.”

Alec Baldwin American Airlines Greyhound

Predictably, a Greyhound representative has fired back: “I don’t know if he’s ever been on one of our buses (it doesn’t sound like it), but there are about 17.6 million people who travel with us every year who I’m sure wouldn’t share [his] feelings. I don’t know why he’s mentioning Greyhound, but we take pride in our safe and enjoyable service.”

Greyhound can claim “enjoyable service” all they want. Their years of providing a “brand experience” that includes dirty bus stations, surly drivers, creepy co-travelers and indifferent customer service will always undercut that marketing spin. The Greyhound brand most definitely has become a synonym for general awfulness. And, Alec Baldwin is a certified jerk, but he is right about the American Airlines brand experience. They are definitely approaching Greyhound status.

The marketers at Greyhound seem to realize fixing their brand might be impossible. They have found an effective way to escape those low-rent associations with a new brand: Bolt Bus. As a regular on their NY-DC route, I can personally attest Bolt Bus is a thousand times better than American Airlines. And on Bolt Bus, one never need worry about encountering Alec Baldwin!

© 2014 Lisa Merriam