Fly the Branded Skies

Branded Skies goes to Cannes

NCENo, not literally, unfortunately. But for someone interested in airline branding, there wasn’t really that much to see at Cannes this year anyway. Mary Wells, famous for branding Braniff Airlines, once said that hard times call for hard selling, and last year’s times were very hard indeed for the airline industry.

Unfortunately, Cannes Lions are rarely given out for 1/8-page newspaper ads announcing seat sales.

There were, however, some winners—or, really, three: Norwegian Airlines, which won a bronze outdoor Lion for its cute “Last one to leave please turn out the lights” bus shelter, Germanwings, which won a bronze Film Lion for a gutsy and hilarious spot that I’ve embeded below, and Virgin, which won all the rest.

V Australia—the long-haul international counterpart to Virgin Blue—won an impressive number of Lions in an impressive number of categories for V 4320. You can see the official Cannes page here, but the case study video is much easier to follow. There’s something uniquely modern about going some place new and spending every single minute of it on your BlackBerry—but I digress.

Virgin Atlantic won cyber and film Lions for this campaign about people who have a fear of flying… any airline but Virgin Atlantic. Again, cute. But the airline’s South African radio campaign, which won bronze, is brilliant. The writing is hilarious, the message—that Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is the reward for a life in the rat race—is poignant. Last year, the same agency’s work for Virgin Atlantic won the radio Grand Prix. I think this year’s campaign was actually much better. Unfortunately, I’m not a Cannes judge.

If I had been, I would have given more attention to jetBlue this year.  JWT’s Welcome Aboard campaign was clever and perfectly timed, and The Flyer Collection was a whimsical new way to talk about the jetBlue experience. The Flyer Collection was shortlisted for a media Lion; it seems Welcome Aboard wasn’t even submitted. And to add injury to insult, jetBlue’s account has since left JWT for another agency.

But rather than leave on that sad note, here’s the bronze Lion-winning spot from Germanwings. You have to admire their pluck.

A l’année prochaine…