American’s Newest Ad Campaign — “World’s Greatest Flyers”

Filed Under: American, Media

American has just unveiled their latest global ad campaign, which comes with a new tagline — World’s Greatest Flyers. Here’s how American explains the concept behind the new campaign:

American Airlines’ new ad campaign celebrates people from all walks of life – our customers and employees – traveling on American.

As the world’s largest airline, with the best network, youngest fleet and competitive product, we need to focus on the people and the experiences we serve them to set us apart from the competition. American’s customers and employees all impact the travel experience. We’re celebrating the ways they elevate themselves from good to great flyers.

We developed this campaign from the inside out, listening to our employees and customers to discover what sets us apart. Our goal is to be the greatest airline in the world, by being the airline employees want to work for, customers want to fly and where investors want to put their money.

As a reminder, American’s previous tagline was Going For Great. Perhaps they gave up on that goal, and realized that wasn’t actually happening. Similarly, Qatar Airways recently changed their tagline from The World’s 5-Star Airline to Going Places Together, perhaps also reflective of the direction the airline is headed. 😉

In all honesty, I find American’s new ad campaign a bit ambiguous, which is perhaps the intent. “The World’s Greatest Flyers” tagline is supposed to apply to their customers and employees, though I find the concept of that as an ad campaign to be a bit ridiculous. It’s one thing to claim your employees are the best (which American can’t do with a straight face), but to claim that the world’s best flyers fly with your airline? Hmmm…

Given how much people share their flying experiences on social media, American wants people to use the hashtag #GreatestFlyers when sharing their small travel victories. Maybe it’s just me, but Tweeting something with #GreatestFlyers feels very… not modest.

American will be taking out print ads, including the below one, which is visually stunning:


On the other end of the spectrum they also have exhaustingly detailed print ads, about the traits of the world’s best flyers:


American is also doing some video ads, including the following:

Personally I love the visuals of these ads, but I just have a hard time connecting with the message of the ad as such.

Bottom line

I don’t envy working in the marketing department of one of the US legacy airlines. Most people really don’t like the US legacy carriers, but fly them out of necessity. So marketing a US legacy airline is almost like marketing the DMV or the IRS. Do I want the Internal Revenue Service’s services? Not really, but what’s the alternative? 😉

“Going For Great” was highly aspirational, and sort of cringeworthy, so I’m happy to see they dumped that. At the same time, “World’s Greatest Flyers” seems pretentious, both as far as their customers and employees go.

If I were in charge of American’s new ad campaign, I’d focus on their top-notch premium cabin hard products (at least on some planes), global route network, that they’re the largest airline in the world, and perhaps even their history as a pioneer in aviation. But I’m not sure how this new ad campaign tells me why I should fly American.

What do you make of American’s new “World’s Greatest Flyers” ad campaign?

  1. Take all of those marketing $$$ and toss it towards employees & pax benefits. MUCH better use of the money. SHOW us you’re better, don’t tell us. Talk is cheap. Even cheaper from a PR department.

  2. Based on the print ad, it looks They are trying to give etiquette lessons in the form of an ad campaign. Maybe the flight attendants could give out gold stars to the “greatest flyers”. Then you could redeem stars for extra peanuts on your next flight.

  3. TOTALLY does not resonate! So – if I don’t ask about the window shade I’m not one of the world’s greatest flyers???? What if I’m in a Window seat in J on a 777-300? Should I ask myself?

    There’s nothing here to make me want to fly American specifically…so not sure what the point is.

    As posted above said – save your money – improve service…maybe start with Pre-departure beverages…..

    …coming soon….free agency…thanks to the deplorable changes to the AAdvantage program….

  4. When it comes to American , Delta , and United they are simply ahead of the pack. I am one of the world’s greatest flyers .

  5. I like it – especially the visuals. Maybe they will have ads later on in the campaign that emphasize premium flights and cabin accommodations. It can’t all be about the business flyer after all most of their passengers fly only once a year. I never left an airline because I didn’t like their ad campaign. I have however, tried an airline with a good ad.

  6. Seems like the message (especially in the video spot) is targeted to such a small subset of the population. Is it supposed to inspire the common folk or the HVCs? Also, that “If you could sit by anyone on a plane” print ad is waaaaaaaay too busy. People’s attention spans aren’t that long to want to read through all of the fine text.

    P.S. – is it fliers or flyers? Gotta love the English language! 🙂

  7. It’s a great ad, beautiful visual, and smooth run through. Ads like this are not about your specific nerds, but conceptualization, imagination, for kids, or young at heart, who may also pause for a moment in their daily schedule to reflect and compose the state of mind.

  8. The ad definitely aligns with AA’s (and other legacy airlines) new strategy and changing market. It is not made to attract people who do mileage runs which is probably why you and some comments are not connecting with it
    While Delta’s “new” commercials are generally nice ads showing passengers in crisp clean planes and smiling FAs pouring drinks in first class, it fails to adapt to the new reality of the airline industry which is the fact that airplanes are now a mass transportation system accessible to poor and rich thanks to low cost carriers. Therefore, AA’s campaign seems to be targeted towards the masses who are choosing low cost carriers to show them what they’re missing on AA. As much as I hate their ever increasing changes, legacy carriers in my opinion still offer a much better flight experience and I believe that’s what AA is trying to communicate here. As a double bonus, the ads also make high-spending elites (such as Hollywood stars) feel better by showing them AA cares about in-flight etiquette and that AA is trying to educate their fellow passengers about the appropriate etiquette as well.

  9. The first ad is a throwback to the Chermayeff and Geismar posters for PanAm, or the Georg Gerstner posters for Swissair. However, American blew an opportunity for a classic poster ad by superimposing their logo, which looks out of place and clashes with the background. I bet the ad agency designed the ad with just the shadow on the ground, but the marketing folks demanded that the logo feature prominently.

  10. I’m pretty sure the ads are talking about their employees and crew not the passengers. That’s the vibe I get?

  11. This ad is a veiled attack on low cost carriers, and I would expect future campaigns to be more straightforward attacks on low cost carriers.

  12. TxAg is on point.

    A few weeks ago I was booking a trip for a friend and me to go to a football game. Neither of us have high level status with any airline (AA Gold). The guy made a statement that fit this slogan, “I fly Frontier because it is cheap, but I really don’t like it and would prefer to fly a legacy carrier.” This ad speaks right to people who try to make that type of decision all the time. There is a difference between flying a LCC and a legacy. The difference is becoming smaller, but there is still enough of a difference to attract people in the middle. We booked an AA flight btw, which was comparably priced to the LCC competitor.

  13. @AlexS what an inane comment from someone who understands nothing about marketing and PR (two related, but completely different functions). First of all, at most companies–AA included–the marketing spend is miniscule compared to what you vaguely describe as “employee and pax benefits.” If you think employees should be paid more–and paid with marketing dollars–at Doug Parker’s Discount Emporium, that might add up to a couple of dollars per employee. For pax benefits, it would be even less. This campaign probably cost $500k, plus a print media buy (doubt they’re going to buy TV placements) of maybe another $500k. $1M for a company that spends billions on employee (unionized) benefits.

  14. Love the visuals and the imagery – however, it also has a condescending tone.

    The mood of the airline depends on the reciprocity between the staff and the passengers.

    Don’t strive to define the world’s greatest flyers. Strive to define and work towards the world’s greatest airline.

  15. @DiscoPapa – good question. My understanding is that individuals that fly are “flyers” whereas a “flier” is a pamphlet or brocure.

  16. Samantha Stuart nailed it.

    In short, the ground staff and crew set the tone for the flight. Treat your customers (passengers) like you truly value their business and they’ll respond accordingly. Sour the experience, and don’t expect them to suddenly do as you preach to them. BE the change you want to see in the sky.

    Nice visuals, but no, this didn’t resonate with me in the slightest. To the contrary, the condescending tone of the lecture TO me leads me to think they want me to be a certain type of person before getting on their planes. The fact I consider myself to be a very kind, thoughtful, considerate and helpful flyer (a ‘great flyer’ by their definition) is because that’s how I am, not because American told me to be so.

    For their sake, I hope they don’t actually air or print these.

  17. I think this is really smart.

    Rather than talking legroom and wifi – which ALL airlines have and talk about – it’s saying that if I want to fly next to great people I should fly with American….that simple.

    At least finally they’re not just talking about themselves.

  18. On my kid’s first flight he was screaming…and I was exhausted. A nice old lady walked him up and down the aisle for me to give me a break. I guess that’s what they’re talking about and I think it’s nice.

  19. This seems to be a very nicely coordinated large scale campaign and not just ads… Check out this site and this article
    My previous comment about the campaign targeting LCCs is validated with this statement from AA: “People view themselves as the world’s greatest flyers whether they fly once a year and are really savvy at looking and getting the best fare, or if they’re people who fly with us every day and are great at packing and getting through security”

  20. @Lucky – I think the second video released by them will resonate more with the public. The second video shares the values and objectives of American as it strives to attract the world’s greatest travelers. The link is already shared TxAg above.

    The video that you shared above has a little snob factor to it – I don’t think the airline should be deciding on the values which make a great flyer; it just touches people the wrong way and is factually unverifiable.

    I do like their campaign website where flyers can share their travel tips, which makes a journey more comfortable for the individual and those around them.

  21. Is this actually a joke? How incredibly condescending. Not only does this not resonate with me, it actively makes me angry.

    Visuals aside they are throwing up their hands in the air and transferring responsibility for managing the tone of the flight to the passengers? It’s like they have gone from “Going for Great” to “we give up – you people handle this”.

    How about they spend less time on long-winded etiquette lessons and more time getting their planes in the air at least close to schedule (had a 5-hour delay last time I flew them a few weeks ago).

    And if you want me to ask before closing a window shade why don’t you start by giving me a seat with a working window shade (also not present, in F, on my last flight).

  22. Totally agree with you there. The visuals, especially the sky scene, is stunning. The message…in some way I guess they’re trying to make people come and join that “exclusive” kind of traveller that they define. Like, “the civilised traveller flies American. You are civilised (aren’t you?). So fly American.”

  23. I hate American, I hate United….I can almost put up with Delta. The rest aren’t so bad. I recently sent American an award, which they didn’t even respond to. For a little entertainment to brighten your day have a look at the award I sent them.
    See the

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