The protestors were angry. "Save our tails!" they shouted. Another shook a sign at the onlookers. "Let Flip Fly," it demanded. Clearly, this was not your average demonstration.
Coloradans (and others) are proud of the scrappy little carrier, which has been in and out of bankruptcy - yet still soars over the Rockies, and still retains something of the spirit of the Old West (sure, they'll be happy to transport your rack of antlers, if you cover the tips, and fork over the $100 fee).
But what people love most about the airline - or so it seemed last Friday as they shouted and waved their signs - is Frontier's animals. Those pictures of wildlife that adorn the airline's tails, including the aforementioned Flip the Bottlenose Dolphin, Jack the Rabbit, Larry the Lynx, Grizwald the Bear and 58 other creatures.
So what, you may be thinking. If so, road warrior Rusty Dornin, with the D.C.-based media firm NewsCertified Exchange begs to differ; she says, the animals make you smile - and how many smiles do you see while traveling nowadays? "The airlines these days are so dull and dehumanizing," says Dornin. "Frontier's animal art is a like a breath of fresh air."
Unfortunately, Frontier and its fans may soon be saying goodbye to Griz and his colleagues because Frontier may not be Frontier much longer. These days, it's owned by Republic (which also bought Midwest Airlines) and there's a distinct possibility that the corporate overlords may combine the two popular names to create a whole new airline with completely revamped branding.
Which could mean there will no longer be room for Rudy the Raccoon or Charlie the Cougar or Andy the Antelope. And them's fightin' words, hence the rally. Or is this just sentimentality carried to extremes?
You have to remember that people are passionate about animals; in fact, the only time I get more comments on about pets on my blog, is when I write about children screaming on planes (and then you really see the fur fly - pun unintended).
And face it, four-legged fauna are great corporate symbols. Consider that three of Advertising Age's Top Ten Advertising Icons of the Century are animals: these include Tony the Tiger, the Energizer Bunny and Borden's Elsie (the rest are "humans" like the Marlborough Man, Ronald McDonald, the Green Giant, Betty Crocker, Aunt Jemima, the Michelin Man and the somewhat unclassifiable Pillsbury Doughboy).
Other carriers have had great success with animals; just look at Qantas and their kangaroo-emblazoned tails; sure, the logo has evolved over the years (the marsupial used to be pictured with wings) but it's still there, a steady and reassuring presence. Besides, they have koalas waiting in the wings if the kangaroo ever gets too demanding.
Yes, there's nothing like a touch of warmth to defrost the coldest of corporate images - even if it seems, well, a little nutty. I mean, Larry the Lynx? But go back even farther, to those painted "smiles" that once graced the planes of now-defunct PSA airlines: you looked at them, and it was hard not to grin back.