Air France’s Unusual New Ad Campaign

Filed Under: Air France, Videos

I’m a huge fan of Air France’s marketing, or really am a huge fan of any time they highlight just how French they are. For example, Air France’s safety video is easily one of my favorite safety videos out there, because it’s just so, so, so French. Why shouldn’t you smoke on a plane? Because it’s simply not chic. Why should you wear your seatbelt? Because it will elegantly highlight your waistline. Do’h!

Or there’s this ad, which manages to be abstract while highlighting their industry leading first class product.

Or there’s this ad that was part of their “France Is In The Air” campaign. I’m not even sure what’s going on or what the message is, but it just seems so fitting for Air France.

Air France has just released their latest ad campaign, which has the tagline “Take A Chance Or Fly Air France.” The first ad is a 30 second slot that should be in US media in the coming weeks. The ad depicts two passengers. One is flying Air France and is enjoying 500 hours of films & shows, hot meals & drinks, and champagne service. The other passenger isn’t flying Air France, and is enjoying a 50 foot Sudoku puzzle, champagne-flavored gummies, and a scratch-and-sniff patch that smells like boeuf bourguignon.

Here’s the ad:

This is an interesting angle for them to take, though I’m not sure what I make of it.

To start, here’s how an Air France executive described the new campaign to the New York Times:

“We want to remind our clients and our future clients that there is another way to travel, even in economy, where everything is included,” said Dominique Wood, Air France’s executive vice president of brand and communication. “You’ve got a very comfortable seat, you’ve got a hot meal and a full complement of entertainment, and if you can have it — if you’re the right age — a glass of French Champagne.”

“We are quite convinced that most of the low-cost carrier’s clients don’t know that they pay nearly the same price when they travel with the low-cost company because when they have the luggage, the meal, the drinks, the entertainment, at the end of the day it’s very similar to the all-included price they could pay with Air France,” Ms. Wood said. “As we have the image of a quite premium airline, it’s not obvious for them to understand that.”

The reason I think they’re slightly missing the boat here is because I don’t think passengers need to be reminded that there is another way to travel. They certainly know that, and know that they can also travel in first and business class if they were willing to pay for it. People fly ultra low cost carriers because they’re looking for the lowest possible fare, and not because they’re looking for an airline serving champagne in economy. Furthermore, the ad talks about all these features, though short-haul flights certainly don’t have this kind of entertainment.

This ad also does little to differentiate Air France from their non-ultra low cost competitors. Lots of airlines offer free food and drinks and free entertainment, so the only thing setting Air France apart there is the free champagne in all cabins.

So not only do I find the message a bit confusing, but I also feel like they’re squeezing a lot into a 30 second slot to the point that it’s almost confusing.

What do you make of Air France’s new ad campaign?

  1. I think Air France wants to work up their marketing and maybe get more customers. I personally have not seen La premiere, but I would love too. @Lucky, what do you think about the La Premiere and do you think it is fantastic product that would bring them some $$$

  2. Luck, People are not smart. Google Flights for instance is a tool for miles enthusiasts like us. Not one of my friends know this tool, they just go the website of Ryan Air or Wizz Air and they will find their tickets there. Because they think: “its the cheapest”. A friend of me paid 260 euro to fly Vueling from Amsterdam to Madrid. This is practically the same price you can fly Business Latam Frankfurt – Madrid with flat-bed. Same with many cheap business class fares, sometimes its cheaper to buy business than economy (or just 20$ more or so), but people don’t select business class because they only look at economy since business class is “Only for ultra rich people”.

  3. I think the x-factor with the ad campaign is how French it still is (and the implied superiority): the meal patch is boeuf bourguignon and the beverage you are being reminded of with the gummy bears is champagne.

    And that points to the goal of the campaign – convince people Air France is a premium offering (relative to the competition) even in economy. Savvy travelers (like yourself Lucky) will do an amenity-by-amenity comparison, but most travelers will walk away from this with the impression that Air France is a good experience (indeed, when your competition is BA and Norwegian it’s hard not to measure up favorably when you’re talking about the overall experience) even if that is not factually the case. Put another way, it’s about building the brand (which theoretically will convert into purchases and/or higher fares further down the line) rather than changing purchasing behavior in the moment.

  4. For whatever, the French have always been successful in marketing the perceived cache and status of all-things-French, across a variety of industries. By contrast, the Italians or British haven’t been that successful. In fact, Virgin Atlantic offers a better, old-school British flying experience than the British flag-carrier, British Airways.

    The problem is Air France, despite, in my opinion, having the best international first-class product of any airline, at least airlines in Western countries, the business-class experience is still inconsistent. The “new” Air France business-class is excellent, much better than Delta or even its sister airline KLM. However, Air France still hasn’t installed the seats on all of its long-haul aircraft, including the flagship A380 aircraft.

  5. Ryan, I hope you don’t post this information to your millions of followers on SM. Let’s just keep it here. Shhhh…

  6. The meaning of the “love is in the air” ad is presenting the A380: you have first class, with seat 1A, the you have the girls running, representing business class, then the kinds are economy class. Got it?

  7. Truly, they are missing a key demographic here. My mom would *LOVE* to have 50-foot sudoku to work on during her flight. I think I’d go for the champagne gummies and scratch-and-sniff boeuf. Hopefully the KLM flight we’ve booked to AMS next month will have these available since they’re the non-French side of the company! Or maybe our return flight from CDG on AA will have them…one can always hope so, right?

  8. “Take a Chance or Fly Air France”

    I’m a huge fan of Air France. But I find this slogan quite odd in light of the fact that during the 1950’s and 60’s the airline was routinely referred to as Air Chance, due to its abysmal safety record. ( In 1962 for example, two Boeing 707’s were lost in fatal crashes within a three-week time period.) I’m quite surprised Air France management would want to go anywhere near the word ‘Chance’ in their North American advertising!

  9. Um….Ms Wood’s Statement was clearly mainly focused on, and comparing, (AF/KLM) economy options to low-cost carrier options.

  10. @Super VC-10 – I was going to post the exact same thing but you beat me to the punch.

    Great minds…:)

  11. I also found this very odd given I’ve heard it called “Air Chance” by some aviation geeks in the past, partly in reference to the AF447 crash.

  12. Well “funny” enough, my sister was booked on AF642 from ORY to RUN this evening and the flight got canceled. Leaving tomorrow 10AM instead of 9PM this evening… She took a chance, flew Air France and…..

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