New Delta and United Ads Take Flight, Target Business Travelers

By Ellen Rooney Martin and Michael McCarthy

NEW YORK–The airline wars are heating up as two major carriers, United and Delta, launch new advertising campaigns that focus on improved services for business travelers.

Fallon McElligott will break its first TV spot May 22 for United Airlines since winning the account last year. The Minneapolis agency will use the theme ‘Rising’ to reposition United. Fallon will trace the history of flight from the Wright brothers to ‘the new United rising’ in the ad, sources said.

Fallon, which had struggled to sell through its first work for United, will not initially use the ‘Fly the Friendly Skies’ theme developed by United’s longtime agency Leo Burnett, Chicago. However, sources said the line could return later this year once the ‘Rising’ theme is established.

Initially, United wanted a theme that stressed change, and the line ‘A Change Is in the Air’ was considered, insiders said. ‘Rising’ was ultimately deemed more flexible.

Separately, Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Worldwide just broke its first TV ads for Delta Air Lines’ revamped trans-Atlantic business class service, six weeks after winning Delta’s global $100 million account.

Using the tagline ‘On top of the world,’ the new ads use fantasy images to convey that Delta’s improved service will satisfy all of a business customer’s needs.

A 60-second spot, for example, shows five dreamlike environments of work, cinema, dining, sleeping and music–to represent the needs of business travelers. A woman, lying on a bed of flowers, benefits from the increased leg room of the seat while a man, listening to his own private concert, enjoys the new on-board entertainment technology. Actress Christine Lahti provides the voiceover. Ironically, London’s Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, a sister shop of Delta’s former lead agency, created the ads’ music.

‘We want the ads to be a metaphor for the experience of flying Delta,’ said Michael Keeshan, Saatchi’s worldwide account director on Delta.

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