One of the amazing properties of jingles is how they can become integral parts of their brands over time. For example, Alka-Seltzer first used “plop plop, fizz fizz” in the 1950s — today, they’re still using the tune in their advertising.
By holding on to this branding element, you gain the freedom to vary others. This jingle, “We’re American Airlines. Doing what we do best,” is a perfect example. Campaigns evolved, tastes shifted, the tagline changed, and the account even switched agencies, but this melody — or variations derived from it — were a part of American’s advertising for more than 20 years.
I lived in Texas for two years. It’s a cliché now, but it really is a whole other country. And even now, with a route network that spans the U.S., Southwest Airlines is still that whole other country’s flag carrier.
Southwest started flying in 1971, serving only cities in Texas to avoid federal regulation and the Civil Aeronautics Board. For its 20th anniversary, the airline decided to show its appreciation to its home state by painting one of its 737s with a Texas flag and naming it “Lone Star One.”
“Fly the Friendly Skies” is without question the best-known airline tagline of all time, and it oughta be. United used it for more than 30 years.
That in itself is rare. Even rarer is the fact that for all those years, United employed the same advertising agency: Leo Burnett, Chicago.
If there’s one thing airline jingles are selling, it’s pride.
Most jingles, I think, evince a grandeur disproportionate to their subjects. But the songs of airline advertising are not mere jingles. They are anthems worthy of companies that dare slip the surly bonds of earth and touch the face of God.
Whether this is a good way to sell tickets is another question.
There was a time when TWA was actually a pretty cool airline. It inhabited a pretty cool airport terminal. Thanks to its association with Howard Hughes, and his association with Hollywood, it flew pretty cool passengers.
And for a brief moment, in 1967, it had a pretty cool — and ultimately notorious — jingle.