AMERICAN AIRLINES: Hey, you never know?


‘Wanna do some 48 sheets? They’ll probably get rejected?’
Who could turn down an offer like that?
100% honest and also throwing down a challenge.
BMP/DDB used to adapt American Airlines work dreamt up in the States,  simply making their ideas fit our quirky British poster sizes.
But the feeling in the agency, was that we should at least offer to do creative work occasionally, if only to justify the fees.
So here was one such offer, who knows it might lead to us creating as well as adapting American Airlines work?
BRIEF: American Airlines announce six flights a day to New York and once a day to New Jersey.
As usual, the idea is in the problem.

The problem was that surely that’s two briefs, or two posters, one saying 6 flights a day to JFK, the other saying 1 flight a day to Newark.
Why combine them?
Trying to combine the two briefs lead us to this:AA New Jersey LR

Bizarrely, the British client says yes.
We just needed to wait for his American bosses to reject it, and we could all get on with our normal work.
Feedback from the U.S. ‘Yes, love it!’ Even more bizarre.
We buy the image rights to the photo and start printing.

The day before the posters are delivered we get more feedback from the U.S. ‘PULL IT AT ANY COST!’
It’s obviously made its way up the stairwells of some fancy New York tower until it found some cigar munching Vice President of something who didn’t like the idea of making fun of America’s most beloved President, ‘NO WAY…NOT ON MY WATCH MISTER!’

About a month later, the same account guy ambles in: ‘I’ve just been chatting with the American Airlines client, he feels really bad about what happened and says he’s got another brief, six sheets and he can sign it off. D’you want another go?’

BRIEF: You can now go New York via Newark.
‘Cool, is it quicker?’
‘Better, more modern airport?’
‘Quicker to pass through?’
‘Er…ok, why would you choose it over JFK?’
‘You wouldn’t.’
‘What’s good about it then…anything…nice colour lounges?’
‘What the hell do you want us to say then?’
You can now go New York via Newark.’
‘Ok, great.’

Soooo…if you want to fly to New York via a different route, this is for you.
If you want to land in different part of New York, then bingo, we’re your guys.
If you’re bored with landing in the same old New York airport every time, then try us.
If you want to approach New York from a new angle when you fly in, then we’re the boys.
Hang on, there’s a neat visual bit to that; new angle.
“New York from a new Angle” and we show bits of New York from weird angles.
That could look cool.
We could do the type like Saul Bass’s cool North By Northwest titles, so the type is at a new angle too?
NxNW_Saul Bass
I sent the photographer John Offenbach to New York with the brief: Shoot iconic bits of New York from odd angles. (A terrific brief for a photographer.)
He came back with some very cool shots.
Looking at them, I thought we should add a little plane into each image, to make the images more relevant.
As usual, typographer Dave Wakefield also did a great job, first he rejected the easy option of angling the text on a Mac, instead taking on the painstaking task of redrawing it.
Then he fused the two together by clever placing of text and image. Check out the cab one for instance.American Airlines, Angles, 'Towers', BMP:DDB.jpgAmerican Airlines, Angles, 'Taxi', BMP:DDB.jpgAmerican Airlines, Angles, 'Train', BMP:DDB.jpgAmerican Airlines. Angles, 'Trees', BMP:DDB.jpg

Two roughs that never ran.American Airlines, Angles, 'Policeman', BMP:DDB.jpg

A client known to be uninterested ‘creative’, gives bad briefs and will have non stop feedback from anonymous sources in the States.
I guess the moral is; be optimistic, you just never know.

10 responses to AMERICAN AIRLINES: Hey, you never know?

  1. Got a reference to your site this week & wanted to enjoy every post/campaign before I commented. {mission completed b.t.w}
    Thank you so much for your walkthroughs, as an adman myself the knowledge I’ve amassed have been quite enriching to say the least. Thanks again.

    p.s The JFK with a Jersey image makes sooo much sense.

  2. John Martin says:

    Hi Dave,

    Dave Trott tweeted this site. I’m so glad I found it, some great insights, stories and lessons. I’ve passed around the office.


  3. John Woods says:

    Bit late in seeing this but I just wanted to say the North By Northwest titles inspiration for American Airlines is one of my all time faves. I’ve kept an example in the back of my moleskin for donkeys.

  4. Petra Luckman says:

    Just came across this while searching for an old AA sponsorship ad. I was in the marketing department at AA in London and we had all those ads framed, including the JFK/New Jersey one. I remember how devastated we were when someone in Dallas decided they didn’t like it. Beautiful work and thanks for always trying to push the creative.

    • dave dye says:

      Hey Petra,
      How weird?
      Thanks for buying all that work back in the day.

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