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Horizon Air’s Offbeat Ad Campaign Takes Direct Aim at ‘The Slog’


It takes many names: The Road of Regret. Heartache Highway. The I-Shouldn’t-Have. But for most business travelers who’ve been forced to drive I-5’s 200 miles of concrete and inconvenience between Seattle and Portland, it’s known simply as “The Slog” – the longest three-hour drive in American history.

That inconvenience is the focus of Seattle-based Horizon Air’s offbeat new advertising campaign, which is starting to generate some buzz. Created by Seattle advertising agency WongDoody, it chronicles the struggles faced by those choosing to drive between Portland and Seattle, while highlighting the advantages of the Horizon Shuttle, which consists of flights every half-hour between the two cities.

The centerpiece of the campaign is a microsite ( with video descriptions of a number of infamous landmarks drivers encounter along the I-5 route – like Molasses Pass, Longblink Gulch and the Bridge of Heavy Sighs. These are unofficial place names, of course, but Horizon is betting that those who’ve made the drive will easily recognize them.

“Our Seattle-Portland Shuttle service has been around for about two decades, but it recently underwent some significant improvements,” said Dan Russo, Horizon’s director of marketing and communications. “To call attention to this, we’re trying something that’s a little off the wall but that we think will ring true with anybody who has made the Seattle-Portland drive.”

What makes the Shuttle new? The up-to-50-percent lower fares Horizon recently rolled out, for one. All seats on the new Shuttle are now $99 one-way for an unrestricted, fully refundable, “walk-up” fare, and $59 one-way and $79 one-way for restricted tickets purchased 14 and 7 days in advance, respectively.

Horizon’s growing fleet of larger and more fuel-efficient 76-seat Q400 high-speed turboprops, which are replacing 37-seat Q200s, has made the fare cuts possible. On the Seattle-Portland Shuttle, every business day, half of Horizon’s 31 flights each way are now operated with a Q400 or 70-seat CRJ-700 jet.

All Shuttle flights to Seattle are scheduled to depart from the recently expanded and remodeled Portland International Airport gate facility (gates A 2-5). The new gate has amenities most often requested by Horizon business travelers, such as stand-up desks with outlets that make it easy to work on a laptop, free Wi-Fi (compliments of the airport), increased seating, and video monitors providing news and sports information.

Horizon’s security screening express lines (available in both Portland and Seattle) give Shuttle passengers the ability to bypass the long lines to TSA checkpoints and waste no time in arriving at the gate.


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