Frontier Airlines Uses Clever ‘Omaha’ Reference in This Irresistible Email Subject Line


Over at Copyblogger, we teach people how to write irresistible email subject lines.

Today, Frontier Airlines delivered a subject line to my inbox so irresistible I just had to click through … even though I knew there was no chance I’d be taking advantage of their offer.

Here’s the subject line:

OMAHA is Calling with Fares from $XLVIII

It works because it takes full advantage of three of the 4 U’s … and it has a little bit of secret sauce.

1. It’s useful

The promised message is a $48 flight to Omaha. That’s a nice benefit.

2. It’s ultra-specific

Hard to get much more specific for an airline than a destination city and rate.

3. It’s unique

Omaha is not a “glamour city” you’d expect to be touted for travel, plus the Roman numerals are an interesting, timely twist.

That’s three of the U’s. The fourth, urgency, is not used in the subject line, though it probably should be. (Once you click through, the email reveals that the $48 price can only be booked through January 23rd — two days after the email was sent — and that the flight must occur by May 21st.)

I will often set aside emails with interesting subject lines and read them in a batch, sometimes several days later. I’d have missed out on the great rate to Omaha if I’d done that with this one.

4. It makes clever use of pop culture/current events

Being clever in a subject is not always a good thing. But when you have solidly incorporated three of the four U’s, then a clever twist can be the secret sauce that makes for an irresistible subject line.

In this case, Frontier Airlines is playing on the recent craze associated with Peyton Manning’s use of the term of “Omaha” at the line of scrimmage. It was the subject of this ESPN feature on NFL Countdown Sunday morning, plus many blog posts, newspaper articles, radio segments, etc.

Sure, not everyone probably heard about it … but hot topics in the NFL tend to reach a wide range of people. (Case in point: how many non-football fans know the name “Richard Sherman” now?)

And with the Super Bowl set, and two weeks of incessant build up begun, football will be top of mind for much of the U.S. for the next two weeks.

Which is why bookending the subject line with football references — “OMAHA” in all caps like it’s being shouted by Manning, plus the eye-catching use of the Roman numerals for the price (like Super Bowls are numbered) — is such a brilliant way to drive opens.

As I said, it got me to open the email … and I have zero intention of traveling to Omaha any time soon. (Though, I must say, while I was watching the ESPN feature I did think to myself, “It sure looks like a fun, laid back place to visit.)

My guess is that for those in the convertible audience — people who regularly travel to Omaha, or who might reasonably consider it in the near future — this subject line, and the compelling offer the email itself presents, will be wildly successful.


What do you think?

Do you like this subject line? Am I over-estimating the impact and general accessibility of subtle NFL references?

Comment below. :-)

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  1. says

    The site looks great Jerod!

    I flew over from Copyblogger having read your post about the 411 theme and decided to drop you a line or two to congratulate you on the new domain/site/theme and decision to set sail another upon another premium wordpress website. Bon voyage :)

    • says

      Thanks Neil! Your kinds words have made my day today. I’m quite excited about the new site … mainly for the lessons it will teach me that I can then relay over on Copyblogger. :-) Also, you will forever be remembered as this site’s first commenter.

  2. says

    Hey Jerod! Site looks great. I too jumped over from Copyblogger to check out your theme, I know how difficult of a decision that can be. From the looks of it though, you made the right choice! About this subject line from Frontier, I love when companies plug themselves into the organic pulse of pop culture and “viral” content and use them in their marketing campaigns. It shows that someone working there has their ear to the ground and is thinking outside the box to connect with consumers, it’s refreshing. Thanks for all the great content, keep up the good work!

    • says

      Thanks for stopping by Chase! Much appreciated. And thank you for the kind words.

      I agree re: Frontier and marketing campaigns in general. Certainly pop culture references must be done smartly, and must feel organic, but when done right they are a great way for companies to differentiate themselves.

  3. says

    Hi Jerod,

    I too have flew over from your post on Copyblogger! The site looks brilliant buddy and I am convinced now I am going to get me…..Hmm actually why not…. Make my own full screen image WordPress theme, Never made one before so there is a first time for everything and I think I got the skills!

    That is a compelling subject title I must admit even though the only Omaha I know about is the beach in Normandy France from WW2 and the Super Bowl for me is like a totally different language.

    Saying that though I was walking down Regents Street in London a few months ago and the whole NFL (what is NFL?) had took over the entire bottom half of the street with each team having a giant inflatable footballer. What a site that was especially as it was 7am and the street was still quite empty, I was well impressed with it and wish I took a few shots.

    Right then to the meat of my comment, being a Brit and not knowing anything about Omaha (apart from the reference above) or the Super Bowl I still would be curious about the email and like you open it, the person who came up with it is very clever and an asset to Frontier, they must of done really well with that campaign.

    It’s all down to curiosity, Grabbing someone’s curiosity is half the battle I think. Once we got that the rest should be easy it’s just grabbing that person to open that email or click through to that latest blog post then as a blogger I have won and there reading my epic 1500 blog post that hopefully they will find valuable and enjoyable.

    I find that making a compelling title or subject line increasingly difficult which is why I usually leave it till last after I have created my email or blog post! I also trust my instinct and not worry about SEOing it. Why bloggers become obsessed with seo I have no idea, just write quality regular content for human beings is what they should be doing. I do take notice of seo but not obsess over it.

    I kept finding that I was only getting up to about 10 comments to each of my posts and was finding it disheartening as I have spent all that time and effort into a post that people should enjoy and find useful that eventually I threw the towel in. Sept 2013 I came out of blogging retirement and started again!

    Now I just don’t worry anymore who visits or when or if they leave a comment or not as I am just enjoying the process of blogging and commenting as you have now probably guessed. I used to be obsessed with getting my posts finished, published and promoted now I am more of a friendly and laid back kinda blogger.

    That’s it!
    - PD

    • says

      Philip, wow, thanks for the extensive comment, and for the kind words about the site. Very much appreciated.

      As for the NFL … it is the National Football League, our most popular sport here in the United States. It isn’t the kind of football you all are used to, but it’s quite the entertaining spectacle when viewed on TV. (Not quite as much in person.)

      I agree with you that curiosity is important. But more than curiosity is a promise. The most important element of a headline is making a promise … and if you can make that promise irresistible, then you are going to get clicks. But that is only half the battle! You must also deliver on that promise, or you will not build any credibility with your readers … and then their click meant nothing.

      I’m glad you got back into blogging. It is a war of attrition and only the strong survive. Just showing up every day is 90% of the battle. Sounds like your new mindset will set you up for success. I wish you luck!

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