On the first Monday in March, 1961, the unthinkable struck Eastern Air Lines: a deficit. After 26 years of profits, Eastern declared a loss of $3.6 million.
The loss in 1960 marked the beginning of a decade of change at Eastern. It revealed fundamental problems from which the airline would never really recover. But it also spurred one of the most remarkable reinventions of any airline brand, ever. The changes at Eastern went far beyond a new coat of paint on its airplanes. They reflected an airline that not only portrayed itself differently, but saw itself differently.
For in just ten years, Eastern went from “bums on seats” to “the Wings of Man.”
Every kind of advertising has—well, let’s call them “conventions.” Airline advertising is no different. This is part of a series of posts on the clichés of airline advertising.
There’s an old joke that, when faced with creating advertising, the British crack a joke, the French get naked, and Americans sing.
If that introduction got your hopes up that this post would be full of jokes, or, even better, naked people, I’m sorry to disappoint. No, this post is about singing—something airlines used to do it a lot.
Today, a song in a commercial is far more likely to be licensed than commissioned. But there was a time when jingles were very popular, and no category used them more often than airlines. In fact, airlines may have elevated the jingle to its greatest heights. This one (by Leo Burnett / song credits) is liable to get stuck in your head: