Resurrecting an Old Slogan: United Airlines & Friendly Skies

I once again had the pleasure ;) of flying through the Chicago O’Hare Airport several weeks ago, when I took a trip to Orlando, Fl.  This time around, the experience was much better due to the fact that my layover was only 1.5 hours long as opposed to 7!  Despite the shorter stay in Terminal 2, I still found the time to walk around and enjoy some of the ads and signage around the terminal.

As a marketer, it is always a challenge to come up with the perfect tagline that can properly represent your business, your values, your products/services and still be versatile and transferable.   That’s why when I saw these ‘Friendly Skies’ ads from United Airlines, I was both impressed and in awe.  Little did I know, the ‘friendly skies’ tagline was one that United had dug out of the archives!  With the modern look of the ads combined with the focus on what travellers today care about when they fly, I would never have known the tagline came from 1965!

Here are the two that I managed to get a picture of from O’Hare:

United Airlines Friendly Skies Campaign

United Airlines Friendly Skies

“Fly the friendly skies of United” was first introduced in 1965 by Leo Burnett.  The tagline was used for over 30 years before it was retired when the airline parted ways with the agency.  It wasn’t until last fall, in September of 2013 that McGarryBowen resurrected the tagline – bringing it back in a whole new light.

What McGarryBowen was careful to do was to bring back the iconic tagline in a way that is relatable to today’s travellers.  They were careful to highlight the things that today’s air travellers cared about the most including more non-stop flights, more locations, more leg room, power charging outlets and better service.  McGarryBowen was able to highlight all these things with their ‘friendly’ campaign.

The campaign officially launched on September 20th, 2013 and included television and radio advertising, print, outdoor, digital as well as full fledged social media campaigns and outreach.

Here are a few more print ads from the campaign:

Ads Based on Location

United Airlines Friendly Skies Chicago

United Airlines Friendly Skies San Francisco

Ads Highlighting On-Board Features

United Airlines Flat Beds

United Airlines Onboard Entertainment

Ads Highlighting Their Destinations

United Airlines Destinations

United Airlines Destinations

United Airlines has definitely not shied away from ad spending.  Last year, the airline spent over $30 million in advertising, just in the fourth quarter!  It was rumoured that they would maintain the same level of spending for all of 2014.    While the ads are lovely, just how effective have they been?  And most importantly, have they been able to change consumer opinions?  Many frequent travellers I know still often complain of United’s on-time performance and service.

Since 2010, the airline has made substantial investments in both product and service.  Let’s see if the consumer experience will be anything like what their ads portray!

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