Air France: Change Is In The Air!

Air France recently launched the new ‘Air France, France is in the air’ campaign as part of its corporate transformation plan called ‘Transform 2015’. This strategy addresses three main priorities: ensuring Air France’s products and services become truly competitive and in a leading position worldwide, restructuring the short and medium-haul operations, and reducing debt.

”Transform Plan has been essentially centered on economic efficiency and cost improvement in its first application phase. We now want to improve our revenues and our communication by also highlighting our new commercial offer and our ambition to be a world leader for service quality.” explained Frederic Gagey (cited in Travel daily news).

The objective:

1) Air France wants to regain its leading position as the most consumer-focused airline company. The brand possesses three main values, which are: attention, premium-quality services and pleasure. Air France targets everyone who looks for a real travel experience and not just a transport service. “The art of traveling ‘à la française’ is our historical DNA, our culture, our daily mission and for worldwide customers, a real reason to prefer us”, explains Adeline Challon-Kemoun, Air France’s Communication Director (cited here).

2) The company wants to be closer to its consumers and move away from the distant tone of voice of the past campaigns.

3) The brand aims to reach a worldwide market and show that both France and Air France can be modern, dynamic and open-minded.

The solution:

Air France asked the well-known BETC Creative Agency to refresh the brand and design a new communication campaign in line with an international target market.  This is what the agency came up with:

A new tagline

Fifteen years after ‘Faire du ciel le plus bel endroit de la Terre’ (Making the sky the best place on Earth), Air France adopted a new tagline: ‘Air France, France is in the air’. Rémi Babinet, the president of BETC, the advertising agency chosen for this campaign, explained that the main challenge was to change everything but still conserve the brand roots. By choosing to write its tagline in English, the brand is hoping to reposition its image by showing to its consumers that Air France is dynamic and open to the rest of the world. The key motive for this is that the Air France target market is international and therefore, so is the campaign.

A new advertising campaign

It’s the end of the design-focused, poetic and very feminine vision of France, as shown in the previous campaign that ran from 1999. The last TV ad within this campaign featured two dancers moving between two skies to music by Mozart.

Air France Commercial – Mozart (2011)

By contrast, the new campaign consists of 6 print ads illustrating the services offered by Air France: the comfort of the A380, the new La Premiere cabin, the new Business cabin, gastronomy, the carrier’s network and SkyPriority (priority channels at more than 1,000 airports). It is supplemented by 12 other ads featuring destinations served by Air France (Paris, New York, Brazil, China, Japan, Africa, Italy, etc.).

This ‘Air France, France is in the air’ campaignis less oneiric and more realistic. However it clearly presents the idea of French luxury and uses some touristic clichés with a humoristic, positive, and lively tone of voice. The purpose of this campaign is to differentiate Air France from its competitors, with the image of France as a country. “To carry the brand France isn’t about promoting France as a destination, but claiming universal and positive values associated with France”, stated Adeline Challon-Kemoun.

The airline’s French character and the notion of the pleasure of travelling with Air France are successfully communicated in a fun, bubbly and stimulating message. The visuals, produced by the Argentinian photographers Sofia and Mauro, create an effect of surprise by mixing heritage and modernity, in line with the French lifestyle. The codes of the French heritage are well visually combined with Air France’s new range of services and the chosen tone of voice creates a form of proximity to the public.

Finally, the campaign was featured on Instagram with the hashtag #FranceIsInTheAir, but also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest with online games and competitions that unveiled the campaign’s visuals to fans and followers. This shows the real desire for change, proximity and modernity.

I believe BETC have achieved great success with this campaign by modernizing and repositioning the brand according to an important brand heritage, well-defined brand values, and a clear brand vision for the future.

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References: Air France Transform 2015 Corporate Plan, Travel Daily News, GaboNews, JolPress, BETC Agency, La Réclame. Pictures from: La Réclame

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