- American Airlines launched its first branding campaign since 2016 with the debut of a video titled "You Are Why We Fly," The Drum reported.
- In the 40-second spot, a voiceover explains the brand's heritage as a 94-year-old airline that's weathered many hard times. The video shows user-generated footage of sparsely populated airports and masked employees on almost empty planes asking, "Why do we fly? We fly because people need to get home, and life-saving equipment needs to get to the lives that need saving." The footage then shows people at home practicing social distancing.
- The video is airing on the airline's owned channels and accompanies creative that will run across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, and on banner ads, email efforts and digital screens at airports. American Airlines' agency of record CPB created the spot.
American Airlines is relying on its brand heritage to stay connected with consumers at a time when most are not flying because of coronavirus-related lockdowns and concerns. The video attempts to explain why the airlines is still offering flights during the coronavirus pandemic even as some consumers have complained about cancelled flights and not being able to get refunds from airlines. The commercial positions airlines as supportive of essential workers who may be flying to provide care or deliver necessary equipment.
Many brands are turning to branding efforts during the lockdown, in part because promotional messages pushing products and services could come off as tone deaf during the global health crisis. Marketing assets that instead show how a brand is supporting the effort — or has weathered past crises, in American Airlines' case — can promote a positive message of assurance that may resonate with consumers looking for a respite from pandemic-related negative news.
Stella Artois last week launched a similar campaign that aimed to communicate a hopeful message by leaning on its 600-year history and noting that "there is always an after" to a crisis.
American Airlines is taking a similar approach by opening its ad with audio that expresses how long the company has been in business and visuals from several airports and planes. With the future of travel unknown, the brand would be remiss to promote vacations or seasonal sales during a pandemic that's forcing most people indoors. As airlines face bankruptcy as a result of the pandemic, messaging focused on brand-building could help airlines remain top-of-mind among consumers without blatantly trying to sell them a product.