Dave Swartz, Executive Director of Art Direction & Design
We were challenged to “restore American Airlines to the greatest airline in the world”. But to make American Airlines relevant to a contemporary audience, we needed to turn this legacy brand into a modern icon. For us, becoming a modern icon meant behaving like a leader in the category.
We saw the airline industry had become a features arms race, dominated by the same product-driven messaging. But this was tired information to today’s flyers. So to behave like a leader in the category, we used aerial photography to start a more intimate conversation. The photography included landscapes that the high-value, frequent flyers we were conversing with at the Spirit and Sundance Awards would recognize. And by using the American flight symbol as the focal point of our creative, we turned a piece of our heritage into a modern icon, its shadow a symbol of our leadership.
The posters were featured at American Airlines' event spaces at the Sundance and Spirit Awards. Because this audience of high-value, frequent flyers were already aware of American Airlines and the products we offer, we didn’t need to talk about ourselves. Rather, we chose to remind these flyers of our leadership and relevance in the category with sophisticated and modern imagery that nodded to their expertise in flying and showcased American Airlines as a brand for people like them—today’s flyers. Our audience responded positively to the imagery and engaged in the conversation. Many were overheard having conversations about the destinations featured while others shared travel advice. The outcome of this work and the conversations it sparked was increased brand engagement and perception through word of mouth. Moreover, these posters validated our approach to the client, showing them how behaving like a leader in the category can effectively begin transitioning American from a legacy brand to a modern icon in the eyes of their flyers.