Emirates’ New “Upgrade Your Airline” Ad Campaign

Filed Under: Emirates, Videos

Emirates has long taken a unique approach when it comes to their marketing campaigns. For example, a couple of years back Jennifer Aniston starred in a pretty hilarious ad in which she has a “nightmare” that she’s on another airline. She was reportedly paid 5 million USD for being part of that campaign.

Emirates has just unveiled their latest ad campaign, which instead chooses to highlight Emirates’ advantage in economy, rather than in premium cabins. The campaign has the tagline “don’t upgrade your seat, upgrade your airline.” What makes the ad different is that it doesn’t showcase Emirates’ onboard product, or even make mention of the airline until the very end.

The airline features a bunch of people asking for upgrades on an unnamed airline. Presumably these are largely similar to the requests that ground agents at many airlines receive on a daily basis. Per Emirates’ press release:

Emirates’ latest ads feature a series of characters who try to wrangle a seat upgrade at an unnamed airline’s check-in counter. Each spot ends with the ultimate tip for travellers: “Don’t upgrade your seat, upgrade your airline. Fly Emirates.”

Seasoned with a liberal dose of humour, the scripts tap into a rich vein of anecdotes about what people might say or do when they ask for an upgrade – from name-dropping and flattery to other more creative endeavours.

Also in a departure from typical airline advertising, the ads do not show the actual inflight product. Even the airline brand is not revealed until the end of the spot.

Here’s what Emirates’ SVP of Corporate Communications, Marketing, and Brand has to say about the campaign:

“Emirates’ Economy Class is well known for being a true, full-service product. We offer excellent value for money, with world-class inflight entertainment in every seat, full course gourmet meals, generous free baggage allowances, and great service.

“In today’s environment where others are stripping amenities from their cabins and shrinking legroom, we believe travellers can relate to the desperate lengths that some people might go to, in order to get their seat upgraded. Our message is simple – why try so hard to upgrade your seat when you can fly Emirates instead?”

Here’s the main ad Emirates will be using for this campaign:

In addition to the main spot above, over the coming weeks Emirates will reveal over a dozen vignettes, each showcasing one upgrade “trick” that people try to use, like this one:

It’s a cute enough concept, though it’s a bit on the cheesy side. It’s interesting to see the different approaches that the Gulf carriers take towards advertising. For example, Etihad’s advertising has consistently been whimsical and abstract, and focused almost exclusively on their product at the front of the plane.

Meanwhile Emirates’ advertising has largely been targeted at the average traveler, with the focus on humor.

Personally I prefer Etihad’s approach, though at this point it’s about the only part of their experience I prefer, given how many cuts they’ve made.

While there’s no denying that Emirates offers a competitive product in economy, I’d be hard pressed to say that flying Emirates’ 777 economy in a 3-4-3 configuration really qualifies as “upgrading your airline.” Daniel has reviewed economy on both Emirates’ 777s and A380s, and it does look like the A380 offers a significantly better onboard product.

What do you make of Emirates’ new ad campaign?

  1. I agree it is a bit cheesy. If EK really wants humor, perhaps they should advertise how in some longhaul routes their economy class is only 50% full or less so likelihood of getting your own empty row in economy class is quite high.
    Personally, I think sitting in A380 economy class is hell especially on a sold out flight. However, on a light load, it’s actually quite nice.

  2. Middle Eastern airlines’ service has deteriorated noticeably in the past 3 years, as evidenced by a recent BLR-AUH business class flight on Etihad.

    Also, Arabs in Middle East don’t respect south Asians at all. I have experienced this multiple times during the 5 years that I stayed in Saudi Arabia, and also during subsequent stays in Oman and UAE. Arabs in Middle East think of south Asians as slaves.

    The section of Abu Dhabi airport which serves south Asian destinations has only 1 toilet for 8-9 gates. Quite a contrast with gates that serve flights bound to the U.K. or Western Europe.

    I would rather fly DL/AF/KL/LH on my way to or from India/USA.

  3. Emirates world best Economy Class? No way. My top 3 in Economy are Asiana, Korean, Singapore Airlines. First two for seat pitch and seat comfort, SIA for decent pitch and everything else.

  4. No wish to transit DXB
    A highly overrated carrier with a tacky blingy first class
    They also act as if they don’t receive the same or any complaints as any other airline

  5. 10 across 777s is the world’s best economy class? I don’t think so. I’ll fly economy on Singapore or even Delta over an Emirates 777.

  6. Emirates is the BEST economy ive ever flown in my life, hands down. Love the ad too btw!

    Also, Jen got paid 5 MILLION for an ad campaign?????? Geez…….

  7. I for one love the advertisement. It’s contemporary, unpretentious, engaging and actually quite slick. It’s also incredibly strategic as it’s actually targeted at price sensitive flyers who are tempted to fly LCCs like scoot and Norwegian. This ad is encouraging them to upgrade their airline.

  8. Emirates economy cannot be the ‘worlds best’ if they’re relentlessly squeezing passengers into 10 across 777s.
    I’d much rather fly economy on Singapore. Not to mention the SQ service is fantastic!

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