Last year, airlines had a spectacular showing at the Cannes Lions, with a Grand Prix, six Golds, eight Silvers, and eight Bronzes. Inevitably, this year’s performance (eight Silver, 15 Bronze) was not quite so lofty. But there were some strong contenders, along with the usual mix of shocking omissions and perplexing victors that really make you wonder what the hell the judges were thinking.
“Champagne, sir?” asks the flight attendant.
“Oh, no, I couldn’t possibly,” I answer graciously as I recline in my first-class seat, nonstop from New York to Nice. My seat companion, a famous movie star, wants to hear my story about that shoot I went on that one time, but I’ve already delighted her with it seven times and now I grow weary. I settle in for a few hours of blissful slumber.
Yes, fine, you’re right, this flight is only happening in my imagination. For the fourth year in a row, Branded Skies reports on Cannes from nearly 4,000 miles away.
But what a year it has been for airline brands. For the first time since 2009, work for an airline won a Grand Prix. Of course, it won in the least likely category. But that’s Cannes, where a billboard with no response mechanism at all can be crowned the best direct response work of the year.
It doesn’t have to make sense.
There’s one facet of airline branding that’s subtle, yet intensely symbolic. And best of all, it doesn’t cost a thing. It’s the flight number.
In the age of rail, railroads often reserved lower numbers for their most prestigious trains. By the jet age, Pan Am used “flight 1″ for its fabled round-the-world service (flight 2 flew the same route, but in the opposite direction.) The flight an airline designates as “flight 1″ has powerful meaning. It may reflect the airline’s history (as in the cases of Southwest, JetBlue, and American.) Or it might reflect present priorities (as for Air Canada.) Sometimes flight 1 can give you a deep insight into an airline’s soul. And sometimes not.
News leaked this week that United Airlines is polling its current and former employees on which classic livery to feature on a 757 next year. The livery will celebrate the airline’s 85th anniversary. Thanks to @GordonWerner, you can see the five options here. I don’t want to unduly influence the voting, but the Mainliner colours sure look sharp…
When United’s “retrojet” takes to the skies, it will join dozens of other airplanes painted in the bygone colours of dozens of different airlines. It seems almost every airline has a retrojet these days. The trend started ten years ago, and is only gaining momentum. Read more