Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Olympic Air – inspiring advertising

October 30, 2009

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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Uninspiring advertising

August 9, 2009

metro
The underground metro transit system of Athens was inaugurated in 2000 with the opening of two lines, the green line and the blue line. Since then, the Athens metro has safely and timely transported millions of passengers from the centre of Athens to the suburbs. In contrast with the well established green line, sometimes referred to as “Ilektrikos” (meaning Electric), the metro stations were newly built during the 9 year construction period.

After the Athens metro was inaugurated and its lines were extended and became widely used by Athenians, it was time for advertising to claim some space at the stations and the train carriages (and sometimes the exterior of the train carriages). Only it appears that the advertising companies and their clients do not have imaginative and creative ideas. During my latest visit in Athens, I bumped into 3 different advertisements running at the same time in the Athens metro that had the same “tube map” theme.

Advertisement for the Athens and the Epidavrus festival

Advertisement for the Athens and the Epidavrus festival


An advertisement for a slimming product

An advertisement for a slimming product


A yoghurt advertisement

A yoghurt advertisement

Although I understand they might want to make themed advertisements for the Athens Metro, can’t they think of anything different?

Lambda.

(all pictures © LambdaPhage)

Restaurant of first accusation

July 27, 2009

When I was learning English back in Greece, we were once taught how to apply common sense in writing signs. At this lesson, we were also given examples of signs in Greece, in which obviously something had gone wrong. The sign “Restaurant of first accusation” seen in a Greek island restaurant is just one example.

The sudden surge of foreign tourists in the 70s and 80s necessitated a change of Greek tourist business. Obviously, the least Greeks could do was to offer their services in the English language. The only problem was that not many people knew English at that time. To translate your menu in English, you would either have to rely to your English speaking friends, a professional translating service, or -a low cost solution – to your trusty dictionary. The owner of the first accusation restaurant probably found refuge to the dictionary to produce that sign.

To the Englishman, the “Restaurant of first accusation” does not really make sense. If, however, you show the sentence to an English-speaking Greek, they will probably realise what is happening. The restaurant owner just wanted to point out that his restaurant is first class. (Evidently, you start having doubts even for that if you feel that the owner needs to boast). In Greek, you would go about branding your restaurant as “Restaurant of first category” or better “Εστιατόριο πρώτης κατηγορίας”. The only problem is that “κατηγορία” does not only mean class but accusation. The restauranteur probably opened a dictionary, saw that “category” was “accusation” and wrote in their sign that the restaurant was of “of first accusation”.

metro_sign

Since then, I think that the Greeks have gone a long way. They are regularly learning English at school or in private schools and those signs are a thing of the past. Or are they not? I was surprised to see some problems still remain when it comes to translating signs. But this time, it was not in restaurant in a remote island, but it was in Athens, and, in particular, in one of the Athens Metro signs. If you take a look at the right sign above, you will notice that the greek sentence is unusually long, whereas the English translation is curiously short. There is no problem with wrong translation here, but there is a problem with no translation.

The Greek sentence says “Mind the doors. They close inwards” but the English translation has been stripped of details just to say “Be careful”. I guess that English people are not as dumb as the Greeks that need to be told the doors close towards the inside. They can figure it out on their own.

Lambda.

P.S.: How your seen recently any incomprehensible English signs?

(picture ©  LambdaPhage)

Baggage (re)claim

June 13, 2009
Heathrow International Airport, Terminal 5

Heathrow International Airport, Terminal 5

Traveling by plane can be an unusual experience.  The passenger often puts their life into the hands of two people, the pilots, who will steer and maneuver an expensive piece of equipment  at 30,000 to 40,000 feet above ground. It is, therefore, not surprising that the landing of the plane and the end of a journey is met with delight and relief. In about 10-15 minutes, the passengers who shared the same flight will embark on different routes. The businessman will hurriedly make his way to the exit, where a personal limousine service will safely transport them to the business place for their meetings; the teenagers, who went away on a road-trip holiday, will leisurely make their way to the bus stop and the family, exhausted after their two-week holiday in the exotic destination, will have to settle with their back-to-reality routine as they make their way to collect their car at the parking lot.

Athens International Airport, Eleftherios Venizelos

Athens International Airport, Eleftherios Venizelos

However, before embarking of their different routes, those passengers will get the opportunity for another brief encounter, this time to collect their baggage from the designated space at each airport. The process is quite simple. Every time you fly with excessive baggage – mistakenly thinking that the stuff you brought with you are completely necessary –  you will need to check it at the start of your journey. Your baggage is then transported, along with the baggage of your fellow travelers, at the aircraft hold. At the end of your journey, you will hopefully be reunited with your stuff, which are be delivered to you in a similar way that they were taken away. I said hopefully, because approximately 150 000 passengers left the airport without getting back their luggage last year. So, it is indeed a miracle each time you see your baggage at the revolving belt, knowing that it is only just a few seconds before you get reunited with it.

Frankfurt International Airport

Frankfurt International Airport

After you have exited the aircraft, then, you will need to follow the signs that will show you the route the the baggage claim area. But wait a moment! Is it a baggage claim area or baggage reclaim area? After all, this baggage belongs to you, you just gave it to the airline and they are giving it back to you. The British airports correctly define this area as the baggage reclaim area, but other european airports do not.  Airports in Greece and in Germany for example, will designate this space as the baggage claim area. Occasionally, there are also non-typical signs, such as the “Baggage” sign at the Billbao airport, avoiding any mention of the word claim or reclaim.

bilbao

After all, it does not really mind, as long as the passengers find the way to the area. But I think you will agree that it is the little details that count.

Lambda.

[all pictures © LambdaPhage]

Gatwick International Airport

Gatwick International Airport

Stansted Airport

Stansted Airport

Lutton airport

Lutton airport

Thesaloniki, Macedonia airport

Thesaloniki, Macedonia airport

Heraklion, Nikos Kazantzakis airport

Heraklion, Nikos Kazantzakis airport

Proper German airports

May 26, 2009

European airports have undergone radical transformation in the last two decades regarding the provision of services. At first, it was the construction of a business centre, enabling busy businessmen to spend their time productively. Then airlines started to dedicate space for airline lounges. But slowly the airports upgraded their services not only for business travelers but for tourists: showers for the tired, long-flight travelers (for example at London Heathrow), comfortable chaise longues for those who have missed their connection (such as those in Amsterdam Schiphol), a vast array of duty-free shops for the shopacholics and, quite recently, free, wireless internet connection for the Internet savvy (such as the one at the Athens International Airport).

But what would you say is the single most important criterion with which you can judge if an airport is proper or not? Some might say the level of airport services, some for the effiency of its operations, some for the sense of security of the airport or even for its green credentials. But for German airports, I propose we use an even more simple metric, very easy to measure, unlike all of the above that would require careful auditing by a team of independent experts. I propose to judge whether a German airport is proper by the existence of a very special shop.

If you have travelled to Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg or even Frankfurt Hahn airports (to name but a few) you will probably know exactly what I mean. If you go for a stroll to the shops these airports offer, you will discover that among the designer labels, fashion accessories, electronic gadgets and book stores, there exists another type of shop you did not expect to find: a sex shop.

The Beate Uhse sex shop at Frankfurt International Airport (© LambdaPhage)

The Beate Uhse sex shop at Frankfurt International Airport (© LambdaPhage)


I was shocked to discover this the first time I travelled at Frankfurt International Airport. On exiting the baggage reclaim area, I bumped into a small sex shop among the car rental shops. My surprise was even greater when I departed from this airport and found an even bigger Beate Uhse sex shop at the departure lounge of Terminal 1. After some time, I found out that there used to be a sex cinema at the underground area of the airport, but the cinema followed the fate of the small sex shop at the arrival lounge and closed.

After I started living in Germany, I realised having a sex shop in the airport is not a big deal after all. In Greece, a sex shop is confined in certain areas in big cities, whereas in Germany, a sex shops is probably very close to the railway station of every village or city. In Greece, people visiting those shops might feel a bit of a guilt, whereas in Germany things are more normal and even families may visit. After all, sex in Germany is a very big industry, with the Beate Uhse chain being the crown jewel.

The sex shop at Munich International Airport (© Hellabella, http://www.flickr.com/photos/hel2005/552343893/)

The sex shop at Munich International Airport (© Hellabella, http://www.flickr.com/photos/hel2005/552343893/)


During my stay in Germany, I visited other airports and found out that they had followed the example of Frankfurt airport. Unfortunately, Stuttgart Airport and Baden Airpark, two small regional airports, did not have one.

There you have it then! I believe you can judge whether an German airport is proper by the existence of a sex shop. Funny enough, Berlin Tegel and Schönenfeld, the airports of the capital, do not have any, but I am eagerly waiting for the time when one sprouts even there.

Lambda.