Airlines are renowned for some pretty memorable and impressive commercials. In a competitive, cut-throat industry, spending a great deal on advertising is key to an airline’s performance. There’ve been funny, wild, powerful, breathtaking, artistic and even melancholy commercials that are out there to say, “THIS is what our airline is about”. Some focus on the hard products, some on the crew and network, and others on feelings and events that may not even be remotely related to flying. But the best of the best have one thing in common. They sell their airline SO. DAMN. WELL.
So here’s our pick of the top 15 recent commercials. This list was tricky to compile and even trickier to order up to number 1!
15. Etihad Airways | The World is Our Home, You Are Our Guest
This somewhat experimental film is a smooth and jazzy flow across the world, and through the eyes of different people. The creative editing techniques, matching two different images side-by-side work with a beautiful track by Bobby Darrin to give the airline the classy and sophisticated image it so desires.
14. Singapore Airlines | Across the World with the Singapore Girl
The Singapore Girl has been at the centre of the airline’s image since it first began operations, and is an icon of not only the carrier, but of Singapore as a country. This light-hearted film follows a stewardess from country to country, and beautifully displays the wonder of travel. With a scene in countries in Asia, the US and Europe, it stylishly encapsulates the airline’s key icon, and is reminiscent of global travel, all topped off with an original soundtrack finishing with the iconic Singapore Airlines tune.
13. Qantas | Feels Like Home
This recent campaign had been delivered in a variety of formats and in a series of short films. The all-in-one version speaks true to people all over the world, separated by distance for whatever reason. Qantas commercials have always focused Australians as the primary audience, and so represent themselves as a part of the Australian culture (and they are, for sure). This commercial is one of the most powerful of the lot, and has emotional links to Australians all over the world.
12. United Airlines | Airports Around the Globe
A short, fast-paced clip, the commercial encapsulates United’s major selling point: their expansive route network. It features the super-memorable and catchy “Rhapsody In Blue”, a piece produced by George Gershwin in the 1920s and later purchased by United for advertising.
11. Virgin Atlantic | Let It Fly
In keeping with Richard Branson’s Virgin image, this film is essentially a motivational, energising selling piece. Expertly filmed and produced, it’s incredibly contemporary, and speaks well to young, aspiring people all over the world. Unsurprisingly, they toy with humour, tigers, boxing, baseball, booze and fancy hotels to make this one of the most uplifting airline commercials of all time.
10. Emirates | Jennifer Aniston
We’ve all seen this clip. It made headlines when it was released and did absolute wonders for the airline. Emirates have always been very creative and wildly inconsistent with their advertising style, but whatever they do, it works. Emirates’ marketing department must be 10 times the size of other carriers, and boy do they spend and spend and spend…
9. Delta | Tell The World
Taking ideas from adventure movies, this incredible film, produced on an enormous scale, is both powerful and artistic. Narrated with a deep and thoughtful voice (that’s iconic and common to all Delta commercials), and accompanied by slow, powerful footage and the intimidating drone of an engine, it’s a commercial that makes you stop, pulls you in, and holds you till it’s over.
8. Virgin Australia | Now You’re Flying
Released on the day that Virgin Blue became Virgin Australia, the campaign was starkly different from anything the airline had done before. It was just about to undergo a massive turnaround, with a new CEO at the helm, and this commercial served to make Australia go “WOW” on the day the airline changed. Presented as a fast-paced and gripping feature, it not only restored faith in Australian travellers, but changed the Australian airline industry forever.
And you can never quite get over that final bit of music and air-toair footage that simply speaks “Look out Qantas, there’s a new beast in the skies”.
7. Singapore Airlines | The Lengths We Go To
The latest campaign for SIA featured 3 separate films and stories, as well as one that combined all the core ideas to show the world what the airline is about. Whilst there’s less focus on the ‘Singapore Girl’, the beautifully shot and composed film speaks of all the extreme lengths the airline will go to to make a customer happy. Be it gathering tea in China, films in Italy or leather in Scotland, they’re sure to enforce that no matter how the airline changes, and no matter what happens in the industry, they will stick by their core philosophy of doing whatever it takes to make you feel happy and at home.
6. Qantas | You’re the Reason We Fly
Once again creating a strong connection with the Australian people, the well-filmed, produced and edited film features scenes from all walks of Australian life. Captured predominantly with aerial footage, and featuring people across the country looking up, and taking note, it certainly achieves the Qantas ideology of promoting the Spirit of Australia. Yet again, Qantas has succeeded in making Australians fall more in love with their country, and their airline.
5. British Airways | Today. Tomorrow.
BA’s super contemporaty and high-tech film is fast paced and accompanied by intricate sounds and sights of travel that take note of the complex and detailed nature of the modern world. It’s incredibly artistic and powerful, and is a gripping way of displaying the airline’s true values.
4. British Airways | To Fly. To Serve.
This deep and powerful film follows pilots from the early days of aviation, and works through all they moments in the airline’s history. It’s an invigorating way of showing the world what’s truly behind how people perceive air travel. It pulls back and shows the profound life-investments that people make, in order to make the industry great.
3. Cathay Pacific | 40 Years of Fun
Commemorating 40 years with the Hong Kong Sevens, the fast-paced commercial is a quick transition from 1975 to 2015. Featuring several different versions of the airline’s uniform, and an uncountable number of intimate changes to the background (pay close attention!), it’s certainly a memorable ad with an even catchier soundtrack.
After watching it, take a look at Virgin Atlantic’s “Still Red Hot After 25 Years” commercial. It’s been said that Cathay stole ideas from Branson’s iconic film, but who knows? You’ll need to watch closely, but there are some clear similarities.
2. Virgin Australia | It’s Wonderful
Now known for super classy and jazzy commercial, this film does no less! It’s a synchronised dance of aircraft components, playing beautifully with the catchy and classic ” It’s Wonderful”, and concludes with an incredible render of the aircraft and the Virgin crew. It’s done a perfect job at upholding what the ‘new’ airline hoped to achieve, and is well deserving of the 2nd spot.
1. Etihad Airways | Flying Reimagined
This film was quite a sensation when it was released, primarily because it enters around Nicole Kidman, the carrier’s latest brand ambassador. Narrated in a soft voice and accompanied by soft and contemporary music, along with phenomenal visuals, the film is one of the few commercials that make you suddenly pay attention. Whilst you may take little note of other commercials the play on TV, you’re sure to stop and stare as this epic film comes on screen.
Etihad used it to commence their re-branding campaign, and variations of the backing track are currently used as aircraft boarding music and call centre holding music. It does an excellent job of portraying the airline’s new image, and is a cornerstone in the new airline’s progression to becoming one of the world’s favourites.