Olympic Air – inspiring advertising

It has been a while since I wrote an inspiring advertising post, but I recently came across some really good samples of advertising that I just had to share with you.

Olympic Airways was the flag carrier airline of Greece and until recently a state owned national airline. The name was coined by Aristotelis Onassis in 1957, the famous Greek shipping tycoon, who bought T.A.E. Greek National Airlines from the Greek state in 1956 and decided to rename it the next year. The company developed very rapidly under Onassis’ ownership and gained panhellenic recognition and acceptance. After the death of his son Alexandros in a plane crash in 1973, Onassis decided to sell all shares of Olympic Airways back to the Greek state.

Since then, a series of improper management decisions and growing competition from other European airlines resulted in the demise of the company and the creation of serious financial problems. In 2003, in an attempt to restructure the company, Macedonian Airlines, a subsidiary of Olympic Airways, was renamed Olympic Airlines and took over the flight operations of Olympic Airways. The old, debt-ridden company, Olympic Airways, ceized to exist.

The solution was temporary and unsuccessful. Olympic Airlines soon collected more debts and the company was ordered to repay 700 million Euro it received as state aid from the Greek state. With an ageing fleet, bad services and a bad punctuality record, it was only a matter of time before the company collapsed . Only its name, “Olympic”, reminded of its cosmopolitan, but nevertheless, long-gone past.

It, therefore, came as a surprise when Marfin Investment Group declared an interest to buy the its flight operations and technical base in 2009. After 35 years of state ownership, Olympic Air, the new company name, became private again and started operations on 1 October 2009.

The reason I mention the history of Olympic Air is simple. After many years of improper management, Olympic Airlines was left with only with only one legacy: its glorious name. Therefore, the agency undertaking the project of creating new advertisements would have a very difficult task. Not only would they have to assure us that the company has escaped problems of the past but they would need to convince us it can compete with the other domestic and European airlines.

The advertisements were based on a simple, yet elegant and powerful, idea: the wishes and expectations Greeks have about Olympic Air; their inner desire to see a company, deeply rooted in the history and the traditions of Greece, succeed yet again. Three prelaunch spots were introduced in Greek TV before the official inauguration of the company – and the official launch spot – on 1 October 2009. Those spots depicted people in several recognisable locations in Greece and abroad, writing their wishes in post-it notes. You can see the spots here:

Prelaunch Spot 1:

The wishes are (in order of appearance): “Have good journeys” (man close to bridge), “You can do the best” (basketball player), “In good faith” (man in house), “I expect a lot” (man with globe), “We love you” (couple in the sea at Chania port), “Make the difference” (man in block of flats). The commercial concludes with “From the 1st of October, the new era of Olympic Air commences. (pause) Olympic Air. Greece aloft”.

Prelaunch Spot 2:

The wishes are “We are connected with you” (man on shipping crane), “At last” (student looking at Tower Bridge in London), “Can’t wait” (expecting woman and husband), “With you” (woman writing under a bridge), “Always high” (man on a mountain). The commercial again concludes with “From the 1st of October, the new era of Olympic Air commences. (pause) Olympic Air. Greece aloft”.

Prelaunch Spot 3:

The wishes are: “I feel proud” (woman close to the new Acropolis museum), “You are in our hearts” (woman at the White Tower of Thessaloniki), “I am flying, I am flying” (child at the beach), “Can’t wait” (expecting woman and husband), “With you” (woman writing under a bridge), “Always high” (man on a mountain). The commercial again concludes with “From the 1st of October, the new era of Olympic Air commences. (pause) Olympic Air. Greece aloft”.

And then watch the final launch spot, based on the post-it notes ideas of the prelaunch spot.

Final launch spot:

At the start, we hear some of the wishes included in the prelaunch spots. The advertisement concludes “With the wishes of all Greeks, Olympic Air spreads its wings and rises where it belongs; truly aloft. (pause) Olympic Air. Greece aloft”.

The combination of the masterful locations and images, the emotional music by Evanthia Remboutsika and the feelings of expectations they create, make those spots truly remarkable.

Lambda.

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