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. Read more
The smart money says American Airlines will merge with another airline before it emerges from bankruptcy protection. Right now, US Airways seems like the most likely suitor, but Delta is reportedly also considering its options.
Of course, one of the main issues in any merger is what the combined company will be called. As with everything in the airline business, egos get involved. Often the merged carrier takes on the name of the party in the strongest financial position—but not always. US Airways was technically acquired by America West Airlines in 2005, but the combined carrier kept the US Airways name anyway.
And so I open the floor to rampant speculation: will the name “American Airlines” survive a merger? Or is its 78-year history near its end? Some of the merger match-ups after the jump are plausible. Some are patently ridiculous. But when it comes to naming, they all raise interesting questions.
Vote in the polls below, then explain your reasoning in the comments!
Well, the Big Game is less than a week away and, like everyone else, Fly the Branded Skies is taking advantage of the buzz without all the hassle of paying a few million dollars for a sponsorship. This is an index to airline Super Bowl ads of the past 46 years. It draws extensively on Adland’s extensive archive of Super Bowl spots, with a few added in from YouTube. Read more
You’re looking at the stupidest airline ad ever produced.
On April 28, 1967, Pacific Air Lines ran this full page ad in the New York Times. It was created by advertising (and comedy) legend Stan Freberg in a bid to bring some honesty to airline advertising. But while the ad may have been honest, it didn’t do much good for Pacific Air Lines.
It is not true, as is often reported, that the ad drove Pacific Air Lines into bankruptcy two months later. In fact, Pacific merged with two other carriers to form Air West, and the forces that compelled the merger had little to do with advertising. But the ad did, within days, cost the jobs of the airline’s vice president of marketing and its director of advertising, and it quickly became notorious.
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
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: