It was around 18 months since I’d been on an airplane but since August 2011 (since I started working full time) I’ve been on more flights than I have in 3 years. My mother and father probably take around 5 flights a month and in the last four months, my sister has probably clocked up enough miles to go round the world twice. And my cousin is crew on an international airline that shall remain nameless. So I’m clearly the one that’s most “grounded” (!) I’m quite sure that none of them have encountered these angelic air hostesses that Singapore, Qatar and Cathay Pacific airlines proclaim to have nurtured. My cousin wouldn’t mind me saying, that she’s no angel in the sky, she’s a bad-ass, you don’t mess around on her flights: you stay buckled in, sober and groping hands to yourself at all times. The semiotician in me can’t help but analyze the adverts on TV and I recently found a glaringly blatant similarity between the adverts of Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airlines and Cathay Pacific, with the latter two imitating, with only minor alterations, Singapore’s original ad. Even the camera angles and lighting are the same. Check out these videos and Singapore Airlines, if I were you, I’d sue.
Singapore Airlines’ advert Across the world with Singapore Girl is currently showing on Indian satellite TV. A Singapore Airlines air hostess dressed, and this is important, in her trademark sarong uniform is found at key landmarks around the world, helping ordinary people who’ve neglected their own safety or personal belongings. She hands a lady her jacket at a bistro in San Fransisco, she walks a few steps in to India where she prevents a school boy from tripping, then she’s in London on London Bridge preventing an old man from being trampled by a pesky cyclist riding on the pavement.
Now watch the Qatar Airways Beyond the Cabin blatant rip off of the Singapore Airlines ad, aired very recently. The only alteration to the concept is that the male cabin crew and the air hostess are not wearing their uniform while he helps a woman, sans man, and lifts her little boy on to his shoulders to get a better view of a street juggler, above the heads of the adults; and a rather funky looking young woman helps a guy rescue his bouquet of roses from being trampled on a crowded subway. Only at the end of the advert are they revealed in their Qatar Airways uniforms.
Now watch the Cathay Pacific advert, who only recently started airing their “People. They make an airline.” concept. At first Grace Hui is snowboarding on the slopes of Japan. We then see her in her Cathay Pacific uniform, ramping it on a travelator when, OH NO! Tragedy (no, it’s not a run in her stockings although that would be disastrous) she sees a stuffed monkey falling to the ground separated from its rightful owner. She’s then seen dashing around the airport, just like she did on the slopes, trying to get a fallen stuffed monkey back in to the bag of the businessman (we are assuming he bought it for his kid as a peace offering ‘cos he’s been flying around the world and not for his, erm, personal use). Without the careless schumuck even knowing that he dropped the monkey in the first place, Grace stuffs the stuffed monkey back in to the bag, and of course, she takes no credit for her good deed.
Advertisers, please, you mock our intelligence. This is hardly making your brand stand out from the crowd. Do something different, radical even – perhaps show a plane crash and how skillfully and efficiently your crew save everyone on board. That’ll be a head turner, eh. Or perhaps have your advert extol the virtues of tiny seats and re-dehydrated food in economy class instead of showing off your hand made puff pastry appetizers (that’s you Qatar Airways) and reclining personal pods in Business class – that’s so last year.
Singapore Airlines, in the words of the God Father – go to the mattresses.