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The Art of (Advertising) Flight

I don’t watch much commercial television, but during the breaks in ITV‘s recent coverage of the Rugby World Cup I’ve caught advertising for three of Europe’s premier airlines; British AirwaysAir France, and Virgin Atlantic Airways.

Television advertising seems to have lost it’s way a little in recent years, jingles or gimmicks appearing to outweigh the more thoughtful or engaging offerings which had made the ad-break genuinely watchable for a while. Premium airlines have struggled to compete with the no-frills brands in a recession, often having to major on price rather than their real trump card; a quality experience.

Another element distinctly lacking has been a sense of personality. BA has always benefitted from a trustworthy stiff upper lip which – for better or worse – has always made it feel distinctly of this Isle. Virgin (another home-grown brand) on the other hand has easy seemed the cooler way to cross the pond, with a maverick sense of fun and sexiness, almost the antithesis of it’s flag carrier rival.

Like BA, Air France is it’s nations national airline. I can’t recall much Air France advertising on British TV in recent years, but the marketing I have seen (mainly in print) plays heavily on the French reputation for style and – reassuringly expensive – design.

Like the cliche for buses though, all three European aviation superbrands appear to have upped the ante at once, releasing strikingly unique offering which not only entertain, but communicate so unashamedly the character we associate with each.

British Airways’ ‘To Fly. To Serve‘ fits an aviation history lesson into ninety seconds, ending with a flypast from undoubtedly the most evocative passenger aircraft of all time; Concorde.

Virgin’s most recent ad has been around a while now, following up on the 80’s throwback ‘Still Red Hot‘ campaign with the stomping ‘Your airline’s either got it or it hasn’t‘, a dream-sequence party in the clouds all set to Muse‘s rendition of Feeling Good.

Finally, Air France take by far the most subtle and simple approach with the beautiful ‘L’envol’ (‘The Flight’) by French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj. Without question the most visually striking of the three, it’s single shot ballet sequence ends with the slogan “making the sky the best place on earth” – no special effects required.

Let’s hope these fantastic campaigns are the sign of more thoughtful things to come.

UX Camp Brighton 2011

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