Alaska Airlines Goes Back to Its Quirky Roots in New Campaign

Series of 15-second gems packs a playful punch

Giddy up ... for five seconds. Alaska Airlines
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For years, under the stewardship of WongDoody, Alaska Airlines’ advertising built a reputation of being just a bit off the center line. From chickens randomly picking fares to smiling customer service agents playing banjos, there was always a sense of anticipation that the Seattle-based airline would bring out the quirk.

In 2016, Mekanism picked up the account as the brand’s creative agency of record and subsequently ended up opening an office in the Emerald City in Capitol Hill as a result.

While the initial work from Mekanism was very good, it was a departure from funny. Now, and after the airline’s merger with Virgin America, it appears as though the levity is back with a series of 15-second ads in the brand’s new “Fly smart. Land happy.” campaign that packs a refreshing creative touch.

Like Alaska Airlines’ historical ads, it’s difficult to pick a favorite from this bunch because each is relatable and leans into the brand’s reputation (they have been named top U.S. airline based on customer satisfaction 11 years in a row by J.D. Power) of giving fliers more.

Whether its perks in a new job, a really short pony ride, a disinterested spinning instructor or a tiny entree, the creative and scenarios hit the mark and are surprisingly dense, even in such a short window of time.

“Everyone feels the stress of picking an airline: flights are either cheap with a no-frills, lackluster inflight experience, or a slightly better experience with a high price tag,” said Natalie Bowman, managing director of marketing and advertising for Alaska Airlines and an Adweek Seattle Brand Stars honoree. “It can feel as ridiculous as your employer skimping on basic work benefits, or overpaying for a bad workout. The campaign challenges the flyers to ask for more out of their flying experience and positions Alaska to deliver unparalleled value to its customers.”

On the production end, the crew was primarily female-led with director J.J. Adler, editor Ali Mao and colorist Jill Bogdanowicz, and is part of Mekanism’s commitment to Free the Bid, the Alma Harel-led initiative that advocates for equal opportunities for women to bid on commercial jobs.

“We’re proud to elevate female voices in such underrepresented roles as directors, editors, and colorists—and even more proud to have such a talented team as part of this production,” said Laura Wimer, Mekanism Seattle’s creative director.

The vibe on set, as Bowman put it, was filled with “collaborative energy. And even small decisions were made together to elevate the creative.” Additionally, talent commented on how different the production felt, especially the more positive energy from the female-led crew.

The campaign airs tonight during the Oscars across the West Coast and will also feature OOH and online content.


Brand Team: Alaska Airlines
Chief Commercial Officer: Andrew Harrison
Vice President of Marketing: Sangita Woerner
Managing Director, Marketing & Advertising: Natalie Bowman
Director of Brand Marketing: Elliott Pesut
Creative Agency: Mekanism
Founder & Executive Creative Director: Tommy Means
Creative Director: Laura Wimer
Associate Creative Director: Aimee Brodbeck
Associate Creative Director: Dan Peterson
Senior Art Director: Gustaf Jonsson
Copywriter: Caroline Johnson
Art Director: Alex Brubacher
Junior Art Director: Matt DeMilner

President, CEO: Jason Harris
Chief Operations Officer: Mike Zlatoper
Head of Strategy: Jeremy Daly
Senior Strategist: Anna Rainwater
Managing Director, Seattle: Lisa Zakroff
Brand Director: Luke Welsch
Sr. Brand Manager: Mellie Lutz
Brand Manager: Ana Sabarots
Project Manager: Maggie Boler


Head of Production: Kati Haberstock
Senior Producer: Megan Ubovich
Sr. Talent Manager, Business Affairs: Kourtney Luster

Production Company: m ss ng p eces
Director: JJ Adler
DOP: David Feeney-Mosler
Managing Partner: Brian Latt
Head of Production: Rebecca Davis

Editorial: Arcade
Editor: Ali Mao
Assistant Editor: Luke McIntosh
Managing Partner: Damian Stevens
Executive Producer: Crissy DeSimone
Head of Production: Kirsten Thon-Webb
Senior Producer: Alexa Atkin

Finish/VFX: Timber
Creative Dir’s / Partners: Jonah Hall & Kevin Lau
Head of Production: Melody Alexander
Producer: Seth Gantman, Emily Avoujageli
Flame Artist: Chris DeCristo
Flame Assist: Brack Hightchew, Brandon Harden
Compositors: Michael Loney
Design & Animation: Jon Lorenz, Zach Carnes

Telecine: Company 3
Colorist: Jill Bogdanowicz
Telecine Sr. Producer: Matt Moran

Music: Manage This Media
Music Supervisor & Music Licensing: Janet Billig Rich

Mix/Sound Design: Lime Studios
Mixer: Zac Fisher
EP: Susie Boyajan

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@zanger Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.