Dominique Wood: interview with the PR director of Air France

Dominique Wood Interview

She is a top gun. Proof: Air France headhunted the general manager of W agency at Havas in order to name her director of communication. After 5 months, communication mogul Dominique Wood has just launched JOON… A new airline company with the allure of a coffee-shop, service ensured by young stewards in trainers, where you can load your cell phone, watch a TV series a drink an organic juice.

Dominique Wood? A super friendly sparkling woman, as brilliant, modest as she is sexy, juggling with brand strategies, her four kids and her husband.. The perfect example of a new feminism whose claim to fame it not being perfect… but that manages to do everything! Encounter with the most inspiring business woman of the moment.

How does one become communication director at Air France ?

This job was certainly not my destiny ! My aim was to become a company entrepreneur… Not exactly the same thing. I dropped out of university and the world of research, because it was very theoretical …

I was very lucky to find a job when everything was super easy du travail, very different from today. It was the beginning of the grand era of communications. All my friends involved in the field told we I should go for it. So I sent a nice letter to all agencies that seemed friendly… I immediately found a job at Havas, in an offshoot specialized in industrial design. I ended up spending 20 years in this group, changing agency, always working with companies that needed in depth change… amongst with Air France KLM. They offered me the possibility of joining their teams that year as communications director. It’s really a question of lucky encounters, opportunities, happenstance…

How does one give birth to a new airline ?

I joined Air France KLM in March. “And what if we created a new airline company ?”... The first ideas around JOON were there, without being sure it was possible. There were already a certain number of conditions that were not gathered, especially in terms of social negotiations. Concretely, everything started in July 2017, because the first agreements were beginning to be signed.

It was suddenly possible ! This is when the works became concrete: the name, the brand, its positioning. It’s sort of crazy, barely 3, 4 months. Large enterprises such as Air France have a capacity to react very, very quickly, but mobilising internally or externally the right partners.

Tell us about the backstage events around JOON.

We turned JOON into the Air France lab. Everybody was involved with the dynamics by capitalizing on all the expertises of the big Air France machine.

We were starting out from a white page… Everything need to be defined : design, advertising, what was offered on board in terms of food, the way an airplane is organized to create a contemporary atmosphere..

That way, you cannot say to yourself “How about testing this new product onboard ?” at Air France, since it’s an entire logistic and a really complicated organisation. But when you have a small fleet with four destinations, you could indeed test a card of products and say :“If it does not work, we will change !”.

Another example, we created an airline company in 2017, when digital and social networks must totally dictated the way of selling and creating the buzz. Result, we have a 100 % digital communication campaign. We use all the social networks to onpass the image of JOON, contrarily to Air France which is promoted at the movie houses and on TV…

joon compagnie aerienne

Is JOON the airline company of the Millennials ?

It’s a brand that is more inspired by Millennials than a brand for millennials.

We wanted to crate a contemporary, brand in keeping with its era. It’s more a lifestyle than an age bracket to which we address ourselves.

The idea is having a brand where our clients can identify themselves: it’s a boarding card where you can choose to nibble organic eats and enjoy drinking a smoothie of a good coffee, being able to download your cell phone, being connected and watching a TV series. In short, a company we wanted to be as close as possible to the way we live today.

What is your biggest professional pride ?

I have many. But there is a campaign I am very proud of, around school bullying, that was a taboo topic, in collaboration with the Ministry of National Education. We managed to give it a name and make speaking out free.

More recently, at Roissy I encountered a team of JOON stewardesses and stewards who had just started their training. They all looked fab in their good looking uniform, wearing blousons and trainer. It was really fresh, optimistic and real… Everything we wanted this brand to be.

And your worst pro souvenir?

By nature, I concentrate my energy on what works…

How do you manage between your life as a working girl and a mother ?

There is no magical recipe. Amongst the secrets, there is really the choice of a good partner ! Because this is not really the story of a partnership… My husband takes on everything that I cannot do myself. I am also very lucky to have four children who find it very normal that I work a lot.

Afterwards, there is a miraculous trick. I bring them up by SMS. It’s horrible to admit, but text messaging has changed my life. Before, it was complicated to speak. When you are in a meeting, quite hard to pick up your phone and say: “Wait two minutes, I’m going to call the house to make sure everything is ok”. It may be incredible, but starting in 6th grade, I gave them all a cell phones and we exchanged by text message. Actually, I send out a great number of messages each day, with each of my kids. It’s a great way to stay in touch, and to keep tabs on what is happening. “Are you back home ok? How about your homework ? Don’t forget to go to such and such a place… Please pick up this item”... Sometimes they feel we ask too many questions, but at least they don’t feel cut off from me.

maman digitale

How to run around all day in great shape ?

Don’t feel guilty! Because if you start being negative, you will never be at the right place nor at the right time. If you are with your kids, you will say to yourself that you should be at the office and vice versa. The idea is trying to live in the present moment and stop projecting yourself in the idea of being perfect.

Then, it is important to say no. Sometimes no in terms of work: I cannot cover all fronts, nor go to all the meetings. Saying no in your personal life – and it’s sometimes difficult – entails refusing what is really essential. Concretely, you end up seeing only the people you really like, and spend as much time as possible with them and your kids … Forget the rest. A film, friends that are maybe less close… You can catch up later...or not…

outfit combat

You have a military organisation?

No, that’s all I’m good at… But there are certain kids of one must really follow. For example , on Sunday, we all have lunch together when you have four children, is finding individual moments for each one.

How do you organize yourself ?

I have only one agenda, on my telephone, personal and business. Synchronized with my iPad when I need to see a larger version. But I no longer have a paper agenda. And I record alerts for all the small issues that must not be forgotten, —sometimes, my phone rings and I say to myself: “of course, that’s right !”…

restaurant wild and the moon

Do you manage to disconnect ?

Yes and no… Even on holidays, I always prefer to stay somehow connected.

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