Fly the Branded Skies


Another year, another booze-fueled, scandal-plagued ego trip on the French riviera. If that sounds harsh, perhaps it is. It’s easier to forgive the excesses of Cannes when they’re accompanied by inspiring work. Unfortunately, this year was a bit of a dud.

Few airline industry campaigns were awarded, and many of those that did pick up Lions are retreads of previous years’ campaigns. Last year, airlines took eight Silver and 15 Bronze Lions, already a far cry from the heights of 2014. This year, it was just four Silver and five Bronze, with most of those in lesser categories.

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Widerøe launches Norwegian Meeting Services

If you’ve ever had to go to a meeting you didn’t want to go to — and for me, that’s most of them — the Norwegian regional carrier Widerøe has your back. This campaign from McCann Oslo has been live for a few months, but only recently has it been translated into awards-show-friendly English. It purports to be a campaign for Norwegian Meeting Services, a company that will send surrogates to meetings you don’t want to attend, anywhere Widerøe flies. In addition to a Web site where you can book an agent to go in your place, there’s also a fun series of webisodes.

New look, same eskimo

Boeing 737 wearing Alaska's new liveryAlaska’s modernized livery, unveiled today. (Photo: Alaska Airlines)

Turns out when Alaska Airlines ruled out a significant rebrand a year ago, they didn’t mean for good. Today, the airline revealed its new look to employees and press — and, much like Southwest’s rebrand in 2014, the result is an elegant update to a classic livery.   Read more

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.

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A war of words between Scoot and Spirit Airlines escalated today, according to AdAge: the Singaporean LCC flew a big yellow blimp outside Spirit’s headquarters, defiantly painted with the words, “Hey Spirit, You Can’t Have Our Scootitude!”1

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  1. I cringe at having just typed the word “scootitude” and I hope you can forgive me for forcing you to read it. []

ANA unveils Star Wars partnership

The other Star Wars news today — beyond the release of the new teaser for The Force Awakens — is a five-year partnership with All Nippon Airways. The most immediately visible manifestation of this partnership is a special R2D2 livery that will grace an ANA 787-9 later this year. There’s a microsite too, but for the moment it’s pretty short on detail.

S7 Airlines has a dreamliner of its own

Just in time for advertising awards season, there’s this piece from Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam for S7 Airlines. The installation used neurofeedback to let Muscovites pilot a virtual airplane using only their imaginations. If they could maintain their focus, they could win a ticket to their destination of choice. The video above is mostly in Russian but the explanation of the technology is in English. This is a nice followup to last month’s Imagine video, in which kids described their fantastic dream destinations.

Updated, 16 April 2015: Russian video replaced with English version.

“France is in the air” now on the air

Differentiating an airline brand is always a challenge, but flag carriers have an easy shortcut: wrapping themselves in their flags. Case in point: this campaign about the Gallic charms of Air France. “France is in the air” launched a year ago with images depicting a (French-built) A380 flying over the (French-built) Palais de Versailles and, somewhat controversially, fashion models dressed in stereotypical costumes from Air France destinations. But this global spot, launched last week, is the first television work for the campaign. (Agency: BETC Paris)

Delta’s new ad missing Bill Murray

I never really appreciated the movie “Lost in Translation” until I spent two weeks on an ill-fated business trip to Dubai. Watching it again afterward, that feeling of dislocated isolation really hit home. Delta captures that same feeling in its new television spot, created by Wieden + Kennedy and masterfully directed by Martin de Thurah. The result is comparatively light on product and heavy on empathy.

Icelandair reveals livery inspired by the northern lights

The northern lights may be, as some claim, a myth but they are sure are a beautiful myth. And if you want to see them, one of the airlines to fly is Icelandair. This week, the Icelandic carrier revealed a new, aurora-inspired livery on one of its 757s. The livery itself is lovely, but I’m particularly impressed by how the airline brought the northern lights into the aircraft cabin with programmable LEDs. As for the northern lights being a myth: I’ve seen them, once, from a British Airways 747, and while they seem paler than they look in the brochures, the wonder of seeing them in person more than makes up for it.


Fly the Branded Skies celebrates the past of airline branding and contemplates the future, from the perspective of Cameron Fleming, an advertising copywriter in New York. See how it all started »

Follow @brandedskies for updates. The opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect those of my agency or its clients.

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