The Big Four US Airlines: An Analysis of Their Commercials

A video camera shoots a Southwest 737 at DCA (Photo: Ryan Ewing)

In today’s ever connected and increasingly technologically dependent age, airlines are exploring new ways of attracting frequent flyers as well as new customers. The four largest US airlines have been very active in their television advertisements, and they each have a unique way of doing so.


American

American’s new commercials follows suit with their new slogan and theme. Each commercial is very simplistic and shows scenes from ordinary objects and highlights some of the destinations in which the airline serves. With no commentary or speaking, the only language used are the captions that mention the characteristics of the “World’s Greatest Flyers.” Throughout the commercial, the airline’s logo shadow is seen in each of the different scenes, as if it were an airplane flying through the sky. The commercial simply ends with the airline’s slogan, “The World’s Greatest Flyers Fly American.”

Overall, American is able to create an impactful and visually appealing commercial while being very minimalistic. The ability to convey their message without a single word being spoken is a difficult task, and the airline certainly is able to achieve such an accomplishment. From the spectacular videography to the overall stunning presentation of the video, the airline is able to effectively captivate their audience’s attention while tying in their own statement.

Delta

Delta’s commercial “Our Promise” takes the approach of having a wide variety of employees explain and describe what Delta’s “promise” is and how the airline is attempting to follow through with it. The airline states that “[they]’ve never lost their drive to keep climbing,” with the purpose of ensuring that the customer is the number one priority. Regardless of the unexpected, the airline’s promise is to “always put you first.”  The commercial also states that the airline doesn’t just make promises, but that they deliver them. Delta employees proudly boast that they have the highest number of cancellation free days, more than the other three largest US airlines combined. Overall, the goal of this commercial is to inform customers that the airline has and will continue to demonstrate their dedication to the customer.

While Delta’s commercial doesn’t take the form of stunning the viewer with creative and visually appealing content, the airline makes their commercial direct and to the point, centered around the airline through its employees. While American’s commercial might seem ambiguous to some until the last few seconds, Delta’s is concise and explains everything in a clear, yet creative way.

By showing employees from every department, the airline demonstrates that the passenger experience is much more than the employees that you interact with at the airport: it’s multifaceted and much more intertwined than some think. It also makes the viewers understand that the entire airline is dedicated to the passenger and that every employee is working to make sure that the passengers and the airline “keep on climbing.”

Southwest

Southwest, unlike all the other airlines discussed, takes a different approach with their commercials. Instead of boasting about on-time reliability or new products, the airline simply states what’s on their mind through different popular songs. They take a song and add employees either dancing or lip-syncing, fitting their message in perfectly with the song.

Their advertisements aren’t only informational, they’re also fun and entertaining.  Simply put, Southwest is able to attract and entertain a huge variety of customers, be it the young flyers to elderly to leisure or business. Their fun approach to commercials is really what makes them stand apart from the other US carriers: they aren’t afraid to be different, and that’s what makes them a dominant player within the industry.

United

United’s current commercial is geared towards their new business class product, Polaris, named after the North Star. The commercial spells out the word “Polaris,” with each letter of the word describing some feature of the new product. While United doesn’t currently have a general commercial appealing to all of its customers, this commercial is very effective in appealing to frequent business class travelers.

The commercial visualizes each aspect of Polaris in which a passenger gets to indulge in, from the ground experience to the onboard product. The presentation of each aspect is stunning: the sky night background in most of the descriptions helps to add a sense of calm and ease, and the cabin itself is designed with custom touches that is unique only to the airline. Throughout the commercial, United’s signature song, “Rhapsody in Blue,” can be heard.

The commercial is appealing to both visual and auditory senses of the audience. The video has received over 2.5 million views on YouTube.

Samuel Chen

Samuel Chen

Ever since he made his first trip on a Boeing 747 in 2005, Samuel has been an AvGeek at heart. He is a dedicated United (ex-Continental) loyalist and frequent flier who attempts to live by Continental's slogan, "Work Hard, Fly Right." He has a huge love for the Boeing 777 along with any other Boeing wide body aircraft. Samuel is an avid collector of all types of airplane memorabilia ranging from model airplanes to in-flight magazines. In his free time, Samuel enjoys playing guitar and piano, and he is constantly on various airline websites scanning for any breaking news.
Samuel Chen