Flight of the Future – United Airlines Is ‘Rising’
Agency: Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis
Client: United Airlines, Elk Grove Village, Ill.
creative director: David Lubars
art director: Chris Robb
Copywriter: Kara Goodrich
Agency Producer: Kristopher Knutson
Director: Andrew Douglas
Production Co.: Satellite Films
Editors: Michael Elliott and Emily Dennis, Mad River Post
A Cirque du Soleil performer juggles rings against a striking blue sky. In the distance, an airplane takes off. As the performer tosses a ring into the air, the climbing craft seems to fly through it and continue on its way. “Rising is performance,” says a voiceover.
With this spot and three others, which broke Jan. 2 (A fifth spot breaks later this month), United Airlines and Minneapolis agency Fallon McElligott aim to put the wonder and adventure back into air travel.
“We want to own the idea of the excitement of travel,” says Fallon creative director David Lubars, who joined the shop last spring. This $50 million TV and print effort is the first campaign Lubars has overseen from start to finish at Fallon.
The work marks a shift for the world’s largest air carrier. After two years of employing the “Rising” theme to acknowledge the airline industry’s shortcomings and United’s commitment to addressing them, the client is using this new round of ads to address the future.
“There is a point where you have to stop saying, ‘We know what the problems are,’ and show what you’re going to do,” Lubars says.
To demonstrate this point, copywriter Kara Goodrich and art director Chris Robb added one word–“is”–to the existing tagline. The resulting phrase, “United is rising,” allowed the creative team to define “rising” in many different ways, such as “Rising is seeing” or “Rising is astonishing.”
To complement the tagline change, Lubars also wanted to inject “elegance” into the campaign. He enlisted British director Andrew Douglas and French colorist Jean Rene Nebot (whose work has not been used in the U.S.). The result is advertising that has a “global” feel, Lubars says.
In moving forward, the campaign still draws on the past. The spots bring back George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” which client executives say has become synonymous with United. “It was important to bring back the equities,” Lubars says. All these elements are an attempt to capture the “two-second flash” one has when spying an airplane in the sky, Lubars says.
For instance, in the spot “Day Dream,” a boy sits in a restaurant gazing at a plane in the distance. In the reflection of the window, he puts his hand under the aircraft and appears to throw it on its path. “Rising is imagination,” says actor Liam Neeson, whose voice has “great trust and authority,” Lubars says.
Print executions, which broke last week, mimic the TV work in style and theme. One execution shows a giraffe in its natural habitat, with a silhouetted airplane flying above it. The headline reads, “Rising is borderless,” while the accompanying copy addresses United’s global reach and efforts to expedite check-in.
Print ads also draw on United’s equities by showcasing its “tulip” logo. The “Rising is” campaign is expected to have a long life, Lubars says. After all, he says, “You can never be all the way risen.”
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