Rather than focusing on the limited amount of airline advertisements form the early 1900’s, I decided to discuss modern airlines’ ads before and after 1970 when, as argued in my historical object literary review, was a time when technology’s role in commercial aviation began to change. The two ads before 1970 are both for American air carriers Pan Am and American Airlines and the post-1970 ad is for European carrier KLM. Despite the apparent incontinency in my comparison, all three ads are aimed at an American audience.
Looking at American Airlines’ advertisement from a 1959 Variety magazine, the first thing that is apparent it the Being 707 taking off. The plane itself is located in the center of the page, and there is text above and below the image. The text on top reads “AMERICAN the Jet Airline – announces Jet Flagship Service to San Francisco -” and the text blow the image continues “in addition to the only Jet Service to LOS ANGELES – twice daily.” The interesting thing about this ad is how it breaks up its core message with the image of the plane. The reason for this break is that the ad is highlighting the introduction of what the ad later describes as “the magnificent Boeing 707” to San Francisco. In fact with the slogan “The Jet Airline,” American appears to define itself through its use of the Boeing 707. It is interesting to note how the airline defines itself through the use of what was at the time a technological icon, being one of the fastest, quietest and safest planes every built. In addition to the obvious appeal to people traveling to and from San Francisco, the ad attempts to define American Airlines as the most advanced airline in the US. It tries to change the public perception of the airline as much as the ad tries to get people to take its new flight to San Francisco.
The next ad is a Pan Am ad that was published in as 1963 edition of Vogue Magazine. The ad itself consists of a large image of a Pan Am bag in front of some ancient Roman ruins. Under the image is a caption that reads, “Wherever in the world you travel, you’re better off with Pan Am – World’s Most Experienced Airline!” Under the image is a block of text with the header: “Now see Europe with this worldly escort and save!” In comparison to the American Airlines ad, the Pan Am ad focuses on the destination rather than the journey by highlighting its “Pan Am offices [that] are ready to help you with everything from sightseeing to hotel reservations.” Furthermore, Pan Am offers a program called “a Woman’s Way to See Europe” that puts you in touch with a “Pan Am Man” who will help any woman plan her trip to Europe on the “World’s Most Experienced Airline.” Knowing that the ad is made to appeal to women, it is interesting to note the use of the handbag as being a guide. It seems that the ad argues that just as the handbag is a must have for any woman in the 1960’s, the Pan Am guide to Europe is just as essential.
The final ad is a very specific KLM advertisement from 1989 found in Billboard Magazine. The ad consists of a picture of a blue and white sky with “Start your European tour with limos, private jets and exceptional service” and “Before your fist album goers platinum” in quotation marks on the image of the sky. With these two lines and the subsequent text underneath the image, it is obvious that the ad is appealing to up and coming rock bands that are looking for a way to spread their music to Europe. An interesting thing about this ad is how specific its target audience is. While the Pan Am addresses all women wanting to fly to Europe and the American ad appeals not only to San Francisco travelers but anyone who takes a plane, the KLM ad defines and addresses a very small yet popular audience. The last line before listing KLM’s reservation numbers says “even if your act doesn’t have an album at the top of the charts, they can still travel in the style they hope to be accustomed to.” This line makes it apparent that this high class KLM service is a status symbol and a way to legitimize the popularity of your band.
While the KLM advertisement appeared forty years after the first modern commercial aviation ads like the American Airlines and Pan Am ads, all three have the same structure, consisting to of a picture with a block of text under the image. However, while the American Airlines ad tries to sell its state of the art technology, the other two ads try to sell an experience rooted in reliability. In fact, KLM’s slogan at the time was “The Reliable Airline” and Pan Am’s slogan a very similar “World’s Most Experienced Airline,” both a far cry from “The Jet Airline” that American was known as. Yet it is important to highlight that all three ads attempt to sell an experience in addition to an actual service. While the experience changes based on the airline, there isn’t an ad that strives to be the airline will just “get you there” as there is now with budget airlines like Spirit and Southwest Airlines. At this time people seem to take pride in the airline they take, and the airlines analyzed draw on the natural alignment with an airline that passengers take.
“Advertisement: World’s most Experienced Airline.” Vogue Sep 15 1963: 10. ProQuest. Web. 30 Nov. 2014 .
“Whenever You Fly, Rely on AMERICAN AIRLINES THE JET AIRLINE.” Variety (Archive: 1905-2000) Mar 18 1959: 27. ProQuest.Web. 30 Nov. 2014 .
“The Reliable Airline KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.” Billboard (Archive: 1963-2000) Jul 08 1989: 14. ProQuest. Web. 30 Nov. 2014 .