Monday, 25 April 2011

Ozymandias Airways

I was lucky enough to cut my planning teeth on the British Airways account, at the end of the 80s.

It may seem odd to people starting out in their careers now that working on an airline was the jewel in the crown as far as accounts went back then - just as cigarettes had been a few years before. But it does occur to me that the best communications tend to happen when the category is a "happening" one - like Apple or Google today.

Airline advertising had a dromedary of a golden age - the first hump ran from the late 40s to the early 70s and comprised mainly of print advertising which just oozed the glamour of air travel and the exoticism of the destinations.

A slight oil crisis/cheap packages on charter flights/hi-jacking fears dip held things down for a few years in the 70s, but with the privatisation of British Airways and the increased popularity of long-haul business flying, airline advertising entered the second hump of the golden age, with some of the best TV commercials the world has seen.

Working on an airline account must be a challenge these days. Horrendous acts of terrorism have led to ever more intrusive security checks. Cheap n' cheerful no frills budget airlines have stripped the whole sector of its glamour and dreams. And anyone with a smidgeon of conscience will surely wonder if it's not just Concorde that should be pensioned off as being non-sustainable.

Perhaps it's no wonder that airlines reach back to those carefree golden days for their communications, whether it's Virgin celebrating 25 years in glorious 1980s style, or Lufthansa selling retro-style travel bags via Tchibo.

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