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Airline Takes Overland Route

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The image is riveting and unexpected: an enormous Viking, arms outstretched, holding a pair of "night wands," the lights ground crews use to guide planes into airport gates.

The message is simple and direct: "Fly Icelandair to Europe."

Nasuti & Hinkle's new bus wraps, the latest effort in the Silver Spring, Md., shop's campaign to attract additional passengers to Iceland's signature airline, will be delivering that message in the Washington, D.C., area over the next months.

The agency is positioning Iceland, often maligned as one of the world's "last places," as a vacation destination. The airline, once the accommodation of choice for 1960s' hippies heading for extended European jaunts, is being branded as an economical alternative for travelers heading abroad.

"Icelandair has a low profile," said N&H creative director Woody Hinkle. "Not many people realize it has been flying between North America and Europe for more than 30 years. Our job is to build that awareness."

The carrier, based in Reykjavik, Iceland, operates from six gateway cities in North America: Baltimore-Washington, D.C.; Boston; Minneapolis; New York; Orlando, Fla.; and Halifax, N.S., Canada.

The Viking hits the road this week on Eyre Buses traveling onI-95 between Columbia, Md. (Icelandair's U.S. headquarters) and the capital. Another commuter bus, decorated with images of fishing rods, guitars, beer bottles and women's high-heels, promotes Iceland's "unexpected pleasures."

"Iceland's got this frigid name," said Hinkle, "but there's a lot of cool stuff to do there. They've got more bars and clubs than any country in the world."

N&H, which won the business from incumbent SKC Advertising in Harrison, N.Y., earlier this year, is also producing broadcast, print and interactive work. Thus far, print efforts have appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, Travel Holiday, Travel & Leisure and The New Yorker, as well as newspapers, campus periodicals and trade journals.

Senior art director Mary Ann Beane designed the wraps, which were photographed by Pam Sooren-ko of Photogroup in Silver Springs.

Copywriter Angela Eichensehr said her challenge was to make the rolling billboards arresting: "You've got to make a simple point in six seconds or less. These buses aren't going to be parked for long."