Fly the Branded Skies



These are posts from Fly the Branded Skies on the topic of Jingles.

Jingle: Western “Western Pays a Buck a Flub” (1966)

Western Airlines Flub Stub

Listen: Western Airlines: “Western Pays a Buck a Flub — Rude”

Gawrsh, running an airline sure hurts your noggin. So many things to remember. Smile at the passengers, clean the lavatory, put down the landing gear… who could blame ya for goofin’ up sometimes? Aw-hyuck!

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Jingle: United “Trails” (1972)

Your Land is Our Land. United Air Lines

Listen: United Air Lines: “Trails”

This jingle, cute but unremembered, is a testament to a maturing industry.

It is a symbol, in fact, of a whole genre of airline advertising that barely exists anymore. This genre didn’t say much about fares, or onboard service, or frequent flier programs. Instead, it sold the joy of travel to a public that wasn’t yet used to travelling.

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Jingle: “You’re Gonna Luv that Southwest Spirit” (1982)

You're gonna love our Southwest Spirit

Listen: Southwest Airlines: “You're Gonna Luv That Southwest Spirit”

GSD&M has been Southwest Airlines’ advertising agency for more than thirty years. The exclusivity of that relationship is currently in question, with at least eight agencies now vying for a major assignment from the carrier. As Southwest reviews its account, it seems like a good time to review some of the earliest work.

This jingle comes from GSD&M’s first major campaign for Southwest in 1982.

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Jingle: TWA “A Taste of Europe” (1975)

A taste of Europe flying in the U.S.A. TWA.

Listen: Trans World Airlines: “A Taste of Europe”

It was a different industry in 1975. The route maps of most U.S. carriers were limited to North America, with a few tendrils reaching out to Hawaii or the Caribbean. Only three airlines flew across the Atlantic, and one of them, National, only flew one route from Miami to London. Pan Am dominated the transatlantic market but it was prohibited from flying domestically within the United States.

Only Trans World Airlines combined European flying with a robust domestic network. Only TWA flew from New York to Frankfurt as well as Kansas City to Wichita.

What’s clever about this campaign is how TWA took advantage of its European flights — to sell tickets to people who weren’t flying to Europe.

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Jingle: Swissair “Heidi Wouldn’t Lie” (1968)

Heidi Wouldn't Lie

Listen: Swissair: “Heidi Wouldn't Lie”

If you sell a country, you have two choices: bikinis or cuckoo clocks.

Cuckoo clocks are expected. Everyone knows Switzerland has cuckoo clocks. Egypt has pyramids. Canada has trees and mountains. Brazil has Carnaval. Bikinis turn national stereotypes on their ears. Sometimes the Swiss wear bikinis. Egypt has modern cities. Canada has beaches. Brazil has golf.

This is the story of how one airline went from cuckoo clocks to bikinis and back again.

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Jingle: PSA “Catch Us!” (1976)

Catch us!

Listen: Pacific Southwest Airlines: “Catch Us”

Sometimes the jingles blur together. Most of them sound alike. Most of them say the same things — and they say very little. Fluff and puffery permeate most airline jingles. So I like this one, because its simplicity just works.

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Jingle: Braniff “We Better Be Better” (1980)

We better be better. We're Braniff!

Listen: Braniff International Airways: “We Better Be Better”

The problem with jingles is that they almost inevitably sound prideful. When you get a bunch of singers to belt out an anthem to consumerism, the advertiser tends to sound like it’s pretty proud of itself. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with a little pride. It’s just that, ultimately, consumers get to decide whether you really have anything to sing about.

And in some cases, pride goeth before the fall.

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Jingle: British Airways “Fly the Flag” (1975)

Fly the Flag

Listen: British Airways: “Fly the Flag”

For many years, from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, “Fly the Flag” was British Airways’ exhortation to travellers to do the patriotic thing: fly the state-owned carrier, the one with the Union Jack on the tail of all its aircraft.

Yet the jingle was commissioned by an American agency in London. Written by an American songwriter. Sung by what, to my ears, sound like American studio singers.

In short, British Airways may be British. But its jingle was 100% American.

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Jingle: “Mohawk’s Going Your Way” (1968)

Mohawk is going your way.

Listen: Mohawk Airlines: “Mohawk's Going Your Way”

This one’s a bit of a puzzle.

Mohawk Airlines was a regional airline based in upstate New York. It grew quickly in the late 1960s and early 1970s, then was absorbed into Allegheny in 1972. So its advertising hasn’t left the paper trail of national airlines like United or TWA. But here’s what I can deduce.

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Jingle: American “Doing What We Do Best” (1975)

We're American Airlines. Doing what we do best.

Listen: American Airlines: “Doing What We Do Best”

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.

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