American Airlines TV ad

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

23 April 2020

American Airlines TV ad dismisses the most important part

The new American Airlines TV ad, its first in four years, is quite creative in how the brand was able to assemble it. But it breaks the first rule of brand advertising. It’s about the airline, not the passengers.

“Instead, when developing this American Airlines TV ad, its creators should be honest with themselves and get out of their own way. ‘You Are Why We Fly’ is all about American Airlines. Who cares?”

The developers of the spot, agency of record CPB, found an interesting way to get around not being able to stage large productions during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. It used user-generated smart phone footage along with some “small photo and video” by the brand and agency.

The mix of the two produces some startling imagery, such as the desk attendant wearing a mask. I’m not sure about the music choice (a little too downbeat) but it is certainly noticeable.

The problem with the American Airlines TV ad is that it does very little to create preference among the few current travelers and any future ones. It’s basically recognizing the work its own employees are doing.

In fact, its tagline, “You Are Why We Fly,” would be much stronger if it said: “Why YOU Fly.” Then it becomes emotional for target audiences. Right now, its meaning is just that American Airlines is up and running. And the promise that “You Are Why We Fly” is barely believable.

American Airlines TV ad needs just one, important tweak

Certainly, there are a few hinderances to creating any kind of new TV spot in these times. Many are using old footage or stock photography, so kudos to this American Airlines TV ad for showcasing some terrific imagery.

American Airlines TV adBut a simple tweak in the narration and theme would have made all the difference. And, simply put, the failure to do so demonstrates why most ad agencies fail with persuasive messaging. Like their clients, they too often think inside-out instead of outside-in. They rarely consider the perspective of the target audience.

Instead, when developing this American Airlines TV ad, its creators should be honest with themselves and get out of their own way. “You Are Why We Fly” is all about American Airlines. Who cares?

“Why You Fly” is obviously something the airline and agency never considered or at least dismissed. Yet it’s everything.

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