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Vows: JetBlue and I Love New York

Ordinarily, wedding announcements in the New York Times appear on Sunday, concise love stories crammed together like baseball box scores. But a different sort of marriage gets full-page treatment in today’s Times: the union of JetBlue and I Love NY in the airline’s newest ad campaign. The two logos intersect, forming a X.

It’s the first co-branding for both. The coupling raised eyebrows when they announced their intentions last spring. After all, I Love New York is considerably older, created by renowned designer Milton Glaser back in 1975. And JetBlue is still rather young, around for just 10 years. Despite the May-December romance, both agreed to make a go of the arranged union.

Money was a factor. Although both brands grew up in the New York area, JetBlue was said to be considering all of its options once the lease on its Queens headquarters expired in 2012. So the state of New York stepped in and made an offer JetBlue couldn’t refuse: about $30 million in tax breaks and other incentives. Perhaps what won over JetBlue’s heart was I Love NY’s commitment: 10 years of co-branding. A lifetime in marketing years.

In July, I saw the two parties come together. Fiona Morrisson, JetBlue’s director of brand and advertising and one of our 2010 Masters of Design, met Glaser at his studio in midtown Manhattan to figure out how two brands that had been on their own could form a marriage of equals. Glaser presented the logos in various states of co-branding. When Morrisson saw the X formation, with the heart forming the center of the intersection, she knew. Her only change: JetBlue appeared on the downward axis, the wrong direction for an airline.

That day she and Glaser were so enamored of the image that they discussed how it would look in a full-page ad in the New York Times. Now we know. In lieu of gifts, the brands are hoping consumers will take advantage of fare discounts between John F. Kennedy International Airport and destinations throughout New York.