They walk faster in airports than anywhere else.
They like babies, but bring noise canceling headphones.
They know their mood contributes to the mood of the flight.
They pack like they’re solving a jigsaw puzzle.
They always ask before they raise or lower the window shade.
They know they have a limited time on earth and even less above it.
These are the world’s greatest flyers.
And the world’s greatest flyers fly American.
That’s the copy for American’s newly launched “World’s Greatest Flyers” ad campaign. The words scroll across the screen over slick images of desert trekkers, an apple-cheeked baby, multi-colored waves of grain. Music, insipidly pleasant, swells in the background.
It’s vaguely aspirational. You do want to be among the world’s greatest flyers, don’t you? But it feels equal parts like a rebuke. You don’t like babies? You don’t travel with Bose headphones for every flight? You don’t pack like a compulsive-obsessive?
There’s also the little matter of truth. Can the ads’ central claim – that American customers are somehow better than other airlines’ passengers – be backed up? I’ve certainly seen no evidence to support that.
Whatever the take-away message, the approach is a departure from traditional airline advertising, which typically focuses on the personality or attributes of the company, rather than its customers.
The campaign is the first effort from American’s new agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky. There’s a well known tendency among newly appointed ad agencies to overreach on their first assignments from new clients, to establish their creative bona fides. The “World’s Greatest Flyers” ads can now be added to that list.
Reader Reality Check
Smart marketing, or a turn-off?
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.
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