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Airline TV Advertising

With the first two decades of the twenty-first century coming to an end in less than six months’ time it has been an era in which airlines have come and gone; evolutions, revolutions and airline rebranding has been rife over those twenty years.

Social Media has become quite a platform for marketing and customer service for Airlines worldwide. However TV advertisements are still a major draw for marketing. In recent years they have been used on sites like Dailymotion and YouTube and has given content creators income and a new career path as well providing airlines further reach to new audience members.

Obviously what catches the eye and ears is a personal thing but for what it may be worth, here are my top five from those years:

5. Jennifer Aniston's Shower (2016)

By 2015 Emirates had established itself as one of the world’s premier airlines. The carrier has a huge mega-hub in Dubai and had firmly asserted itself as one of ‘the’ airlines to fly and over the last decade, its first class product had become renowned

Former ‘Friends’ star Jennifer Aniston starred in a comical minute long advert promoting the horror of a nightmare journey. The actress was depicted using an airline other than Emirates (though clearly mocking the stereotypical US carrier) lacking all the nice amenities that Emirates provides in their flagship Airbus A380. It then follows Aniston waking up and retelling her ordeal to a bar tender (yes Emirates has a bar in their First/Business Class) before jokingly asking a flight attendant whether or not the pilot can extend the flight time a bit.

Whilst not her only advert, Aniston received a backlash over her appearance in this one. The primary reasons were the ‘arrogance’ of promoting a classy premier product while completely ignoring the fact that Emirates has an economy class in which an ordinary traveller wouldn't be allowed near the products shown. Another factor (and more a social issue) is Aniston supporting an airline that has a record for allegedly ‘mistreating’ female employees when she was known for her support of pro-women movements. Nonetheless, if you enjoy a bit of a laugh as well as having an interest in Emirates’ first class, this advert is one to sit back and chuckle with.

4. easyJet goes down the rabbit hole (2014)

A short and sweet advert from British low cost airline easyJet, a white rabbit sits awaiting his flight, relaxing at an airport (implied to be London Gatwick). Wearing an easyJet orange waistcoat, he makes his way to his gate whilst everyone else runs around in a blind panic looking for their flights. The rabbit’s gate is right next to a big window overlooking several easyJet Airbus A320 aircraft, whilst a narrator explains the airline has a better punctuality record than British Airways. Notably the small print explains this compares the routes both airlines serve only out of London Gatwick.

This is my personal favourite advert from easyJet, given they've been doing TV adverts since the early 2000's and although the airline did do an impressive 20th Anniversary advert the following year, this one will always grab my attention.

3. A New American is Arriving (2013)

2013 was a huge year for American Airlines. Already very large, the carrier announced it would merge with US Airways, this being one of the last of the so called "Mega Mergers" from the early 2000s, which saw Northwest Airlines, Continental Airlines, and Air Tran all vanish into a new and bigger Delta, United and Southwest Airlines as an over saturated market slimmed down.

2013 also saw the introduction of the first major American Airlines livery change and rebranding since 1967 (when they introduced the highly polished bare metal look with the red-white-blue fuselage stripes). With carbon based plastic materials being introduced on new aircraft like the Boeing 787 and a huge order of Airbus A320 family aircraft alongside the substantial Airbus fleet from US Airways, American was unable to retain what had become a classic livery, so a change was needed. The new American branding revealed an all light grey fuselage with silver metallic writing of the name along the fuselage, with a US flag-themed tail fin in red, white and blue.

The advert teases this new livery as it glances through a deserted airport, before revealing a Boeing 777-300 (which was the first new aircraft to arrive in the livery), and showcases the new uniforms of the airline being introduced at the same time, with a pair of aircraft wearing the classic out-going liveries in the back ground, a nod to the end of what was a favoured scheme for many people.

2. Ryanair, Then and Now (2015)

Ryanair is an airline that has seemingly chased controversy and for twenty-five years CEO Michael O'Leary embraced the idea of ‘all publicity is good publicity’, and it worked. Consequently Ryanair has a reputation of being an airline that everyone had an opinion about.

For much of the time, the airline hasn't used TV advertising. One example of their marketing strategy was Michael O'Leary authorising a single cheap advert in one newspaper with a controversial subject as its main way of sending the Ryanair message. The rest of the mainstream press were up in arms and gave Ryanair all the free publicity O’Leary wanted.

However Ryanair then began to change its behaviour and ways. One notable step was the airline’s 2015 ‘Then and Now’ advertisement which aired during its 30th Anniversary, displaying the changes from the original Ryanair to the current low-cost giant we all know and some love to despise to this day.

It begins with a split screen showing a Ryanair traveller in 1985 against a similar traveller in 2015. Then is shown a BAC 1-11 in 1985 (whilst the type was still in wide use that year, Ryanair operated the type in the 1990s) against a Boeing 737-800, of which over 450 now make up the current fleet.

Secondly it shows the travellers leaving their cars, a 1985 vs. 2015 models popular at the time, with the two travellers walking through Stansted Airport carrying their cabin bags. At the time Ryanair had only 1 cabin bag permitted (also applied for most of its period of operation) and in 2015 they offered 2 cabin bags - which is now back to one bag.

In 1985, Ryanair had one route from Waterford in Ireland to London (Gatwick) in the UK as its original aim was to break the strong British Airways/Aer Lingus duopoly on the UK-Ireland air market. By 2015 the airline boasted 190 destinations across the European continent.

The advert then follows the travellers placing their items in a security tray - the 1985 traveller has various items and gadgets filling the tray, the 2015 traveller has just a smart phone, something of a quantum leap in technology. This is then followed by the 1985 traveller fumbling with his items during boarding (getting his boarding pass out whilst talking on a ‘brick style’ mobile phone) whereas the 2015 traveller merely uses his smart phone to access a mobile boarding pass.

To finish the ad shows the two travellers passing two huge Ryanair signs offering their bargain fares; in 1985, £99 return flights were the cheapest fare but by in 2015 the airline boasted fares as little as £19.99 one way

Love them or hate them, Ryanair has done what it set out to do.

1. British Airways- To Fly to Serve (2011)

Before the of arrival of Alex Cruz and his controversial cost cutting methods at British Airways, the airline had a solid reputation as a leading premier air transport carrier and had re-introduced the coat-of-arms and its slogan, ‘To Fly, To Serve’. First seen in 1985 with the rebranding from the first British Airways colour scheme, the logo represented what was advertised as ‘The World’s Favourite Airline’. Controversially, the coat-of-arms and the term of flying and serving was dropped when the current colours came into use along with the ill-fated world image tail fin designs.

The re-introduction of the arms also saw a look at the history of British Airways and the British aviation pioneers that lead to the present day.

A DeHavilland DH-16 biplane of Air Transport and Travel, a British European Airlines (BEA) De Havilland Dragon Rapide, a Douglas DC-3, a British Overseas Air Corporation (BOAC) Vickers VC-10 and British Airways BAC/Aerospatiale Concorde all prepare to fly at various points in history ranging from 1919 up to 1976. The narration describes the crews daring accomplishments over the last Century of Flight.

Half way through the advert, a modern BA Captain and his crew prepare a Boeing 747-400 for departure from London Heathrow’s Terminal 5, following the path of his predecessors. The ad then flicks between all the aircraft preparing for take-off.

Then, calling ‘Speedbird One, clear for take-off’, the aircraft all depart and the advert shows a view of them flying in formation, seen from the cockpit of the Concorde as it rockets past them and does a break formation with the Boeing 747-400 and Vickers VC-10.

There are many adverts for airlines. Audio, Visual, Print... But this advert from 2011 will always be the best of the best in my opinion so it gets the number one slot.

© Tyler McDowell 2019

All images © Tyler McDowell

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