France, in the media: A depressed, immobile and arrogant nation, turned towards her once glorious past.
France, in Air France‘s ambitious new advertising campaign (spring 2014:) Traditional yet modern, dynamic, and enjoying the finest things in life with panache and joie de vivre.
It is unfortunate Air France made the headlines this Fall because of a costly and damaging strike that lasted several weeks. A few months earlier, the company was in the news for an entirely different reason.
Like Orangina, another iconic French brand, Air France has always invested in advertising. Collectors covet vintage posters of the company’s past advertising efforts. The spring 2014 campaign was a hit with professionals and the general public. Many labeled it daring, and even revolutionary.
First, the new slogan. “France is in the air.” In English, no less. Who said France was not modern, and open to the rest of the world?
Then, the posters. The six main visuals in the campaign play like an A-B-C of the much-publicized French way of life (or at least the perception of said way of life around the world.) Even as they pitch Air France‘s newest products (the spacious A380, the new First and Business classes, on-board gastronomy, SkyPriority boarding,) the playful and witty posters stand out in their own right, irresistible vignettes full of Frenchitude. The message is clear: Fly with Air France and get a small piece of France!
I find them delightful, and representative of aesthetics-minded France. The French Revolution, Versailles and the beautiful Le Nôtre gardens, the Sun King and Marie-Antoinette, the Moulin Rouge, gourmet food. Playing off stereotypes? Provocative? Who cares? They grab our attention. We relate. They work. Some favorites of mine include:
The campaign also included 12 visuals illustrating popular Air France destinations. Once again, exuberance and irreverence were de rigueur. Some did not like it, and the campaign was criticized for over-stereotyping (They pointed out Air France used Caucasian models to represent Asian and African-American women.)
This one is a winner:
Further research reveals the French company is not the first, or the only airline, to use national stereotypes to get a sales message across. Some are pretty obvious – obvious, if you reach the largest number of people, also means effective. Look at this selection of vintage posters. No harm intended, and none taken:
It seems Paris, and France, continue to inspire graphic designers (and travelers.) I would be happy to find any of these vintage posters and hang them in my living room. What about you?
Air France‘s timely new campaign reminds us that if morosity and angst inspire writers and journalists, légèreté and joie de vivre are much sexier… And if these colorful posters have not cheered you up yet, check out Air France‘s website where coach class menus are described in titillating detail. Revolutionary, non? Who knew airlines still cared so much about… food?
Best-kept secret about airline food: It disappeared with TWA, only to be replaced by pretzels, Two-Buck Chuck and gloubi-boulga (mush.) That is my theory, and I am sticking with it.
Bon voyage, and safe travels. I am not flying abroad any time soon, but until then, I can count on Air France to transport me, one entertaining poster at a time.
Thank you for all your entries after last week’s post! I appreciate your input, and all your friendly messages. Félicitations to Melissa Bauer, our winner.
Melissa, please contact me and let me know what prize you are interested in.
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