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From JetBlue To You -- YouTube, That Is

Frank Ahrens

JetBlue founder and chief executive David Neeleman has taken his apology directly to consumers on this YouTube video called "Our promise to you."

Jet Blue founder David Neeleman

The 2 minute 51 second video is an informal mea culpa and a promise to never let the airline's troubles of the past week happen again.

Neeleman called the past several days, "obviously...the most difficult time our history."

The video is purposefully low-tech, likely meant to show a humble, no-frills face to consumers. It does not overwhelm with audio and video effects. Instead, it reads as ingenuous, and fits the YouTube oeuvre perfectly -- it looks like a guy in his basement talking into a Webcam with a JetBlue logo behind him.

At one point, Neeleman assures viewers that non-airport company employees will be "badged" so they can come to the airports in the future and help out during busy times. To illustrate, he holds up a badge. That's the limit of the video's props. Neeleman even stammers a bit; it seems clear he is not reading from a TelePromTer, or at least is meant to look like he is not.

Bypassing the media is a strategy as old as the modern media itself. President Nixon, unhappy with the coverage he was getting from the Washington and national press corps, traveled the country in the early '70s to meet with regional newspaper and TV executives.

YouTube lets companies do the same but with far greater reach. They can take their message directly to consumers on the Internet without the filter, editing, interpretation -- and yes, bias -- often found in the media.

For educated media consumers, videos such as Neeleman's offer a point of view not found in press accounts. But educated media consumers also should read and view the news coverage of the JetBlue troubles to get a fuller picture of the events.

As of noon today, Neeleman's apology had been viewed more than 40,000 times.

By Frank Ahrens  |  February 21, 2007; 11:50 AM ET  | Category:  Frank Ahrens
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