Mr. Porter, the cartoon raccoon ubiquitous in Porter Airlines’ advertising, nearly didn’t make it past the idea stage.
But Porter’s president and CEO, Robert Deluce, told the St. John’s Board of Trade luncheon Wednesday the tenacious scavenger has come to serve as a role model for the hard work needed to build the young carrier to an airline serving 16 cities in Canada and the U.S.
“He is an essential part of our brand identity that helps set us apart from our competition,” he said. “Initially, the choice did raise a few eyebrows and was the cause of significant debate among management and around the boardroom table. Not everyone agreed.”
Deluce said management wasn’t keen to use an animal best known in Toronto for strewing garbage across driveways and yards.
“Mr. Porter actually almost didn’t survive this initial skepticism,” he said. “But true to his nature, his ingenuity, motivation, and persistence, among other skills, have seen him thrive. On this basis I’d say that the choice of a raccoon was ideal, and our team members have taken Mr. Porter’s example to heart in terms of how they go about their daily jobs.”
“He is an essential part of our brand identity that helps set us apart from our competition. Initially, the choice did raise a few eyebrows and was the cause of significant debate among management and around the boardroom table. Not everyone agreed.” - Robert Deluce
Deluce praised the recent announcement that a new instrument landing system would be installed at the St. John’s airport, which will enable more planes to land in foggy conditions.
“I can tell you from an airline perspective that is really good news, and whatever hard work you put into bringing that about, and however you did it, Keith (Collins, president of the airport authority) and your team, and whoever supported you in terms of that effort. It’s certainly a worthwhile endeavour.”
Porter’s president also said St. John’s wasn’t one of the airline’s first list of planned destinations when Porter took wing in 2006 out of Toronto’s Billy Bishop airport. It was added in 2009.
Deluce said St. John’s is a natural fit for the company.
“We’re both considered underdogs. We have to fight for what we want. We’re both based on islands. The province and Porter are ascending when it comes to business prospects,” he said. “And once you get to know us, it’s not hard to like us.”