Air New Zealand Throws Shade At American’s “World’s Greatest Flyers” Campaign

Filed Under: Air New Zealand, American

A couple of weeks ago American released their newest ad campaign, with the tagline “World’s Greatest Flyers.” I found the ad campaign confusing and a bit odd on many levels.

American seems to want to make the point that both their employees and passengers are the “world’s greatest flyers,” though they don’t really show what makes American flyers better than others.

Instead the campaign seemed to be more of a PSA of sorts, telling passengers how they should behave on planes. Forbes had an article about how American’s new ad campaign is memorable for the wrong reasons, given that American’s new ad campaign says that “the world’s greatest flyers know know their mood contributes to the mood of the flight.” Not to say that can’t be true, but it does seem like an odd point to make in an ad campaign, basically suggesting that if you have a bad flight on American, it may be because of other passengers.

Some of American’s suggestions about what behavior the “world’s greatest flyers” exhibit is also strange. For example, they suggest that the world’s greatest flyers “always ask before they raise and lower the window shade.” Now, I’m a big advocate for proper airplane etiquette, but I hardly think a passenger in a window seat has any obligation to ask anyone else how they should position the window shade on a daytime flight. Of course if it’s blinding someone or something that’s a different story, but…

So while I in general appreciate American’s message of wanting to encourage people to behave well on planes, the message just seems a bit oddly presented, especially in the context of a marketing campaign. Based on the countless number of mainstream media articles suggesting that American is blaming customers for their problems with this new campaign, I suspect I’m not alone in being slightly confused.

Anyway, I thought it’s pretty funny that Air New Zealand took the opportunity to throw some shade at American’s new marketing campaign, as they Tweeted the following:

Of course just a couple of months ago American launched flights between Los Angeles and Auckland, so perhaps the world’s biggest airline is on Air New Zealand’s radar more than before. 😉

  1. Reminds a little of years ago when AA ran a campaign “we know why you fly”, which is equally as meaningless as this campaign, and a competitor (CO if I remember correctly) responded with something to the effect of “We don’t care why you fly but we’ll get you there.”

  2. I remember seeing a 60 Minutes report, years ago, about the competition between Delta and Eastern Airlines. They highlighted a Delta team in Atlanta that was tasked with identifying outbound Eastern passengers, approaching them and trying to get them to switch their return flight to Delta. They wore Delta lapel pins. On the reverse of the pin was the Eastern tail logo with a big screw through it. Airline competition can get harsh.

  3. Just FYI, NZ’s comment (despite what they think) is way too direct to be considered shade. It explicitly calls out AA’s campaign in a way that is simply too targeted to shady. For further reading on the nuances of shade I recommend going here: or watching the classic documentary, Paris is Burning, to get a master class from Dorian Corey:

  4. I looked at the seat pitch on AA flights to LAX from AKL and I said no way will fly with them. The best thing about AA flying from NZ to the US the prices are now lower of course you have to book well ahead to get the best prices. But still its competition which is always a good thing.

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