Lofty campaign for Air France

When Air France and its ad agencies consider an advertising campaign, they are obliged by history to create elegant work.Their latest effort to develop more business in Quebec lives up to that obligation.This is the airline most conspicuously representing France, a...

When Air France and its ad agencies consider an advertising campaign, they are obliged by history to create elegant work.

Their latest effort to develop more business in Quebec lives up to that obligation.

This is the airline most conspicuously representing France, a country possessing a long and rich history of cultural achievement: centuries of writing the best in literature, landmark pieces on philosophy and political science.

And, birthplace of the most important political revolution of the last 500 years.

Impress observers

France, with an architectural tradition which has rendered Paris one of the most beautiful cities in the world and with a level of epicurean refinement which continues to impress even the most cosmopolitan observers.

This French esthetic tradition is respected in a local campaign created by RTA Publicite of Montreal for its prestigious client.

The ads demonstrate the potential of flex-form newspaper advertising, while challenging the patience and flexibility of the production people at the newspapers.

The campaign also trots out the skills of rta Director Jacques Daviault.

rta’s media buying company, Vachon et Gagnon, tried to negotiate page exclusivity in Montreal’s daily newspapers: La Presse, The Gazette and Le Devoir.

Only Le Devoir would comply with the request. (Who says Montreal’s dailies are feeling the strain of the recession?)

One ad, in The Gazette, however, was positioned in the middle of the stock market pages. The effect was terrific, virtually guaranteeing an audience’s notice.

‘What we really wanted was to have the ad surrounded in editorial,’ says Tina Schiefelbein, a partner at rta. ‘We got it in Le Devoir.’

The ads run across the middle of two newspaper pages. There are two large boxes on separate pages connected by a much smaller box. The connecting boxes frame the critical graphic element, the Air France jet.

To-scale replica

‘It’s an exact, to scale replica of the actual jet,’ Schiefelbein says.

The ads elegantly employ a lot of white space to let the ad breathe, and to create an atmosphere. The type is a slim, serif font with the European-style loose kerning (the British like the same kind of work.)

The copy is sparse. It is a straightforward announcement of the airline’s new daily non-stop flights between Montreal and Paris.

‘This is a tactical announcement campaign,’ Schiefelbein says. ‘It had one single purpose: to announce the daily flights.

‘While the ads had to be consistent with Air France’s worldwide image campaign, we really left the job of selling image to the magazine ads,’ she says.

The magazine ads, appearing in Time and Elle, were created by Air France’s worldwide agency, Paris-based rscg.

rta adapted the creative to meet the specific needs of the Canadian market. The newspaper campaign is all rta’s.

Two continents

‘The idea was to use two boxes to symbolically illustrate the two continents,’ Schiefelbein says. ‘The two boxes are connected by the jet.’

How does the campaign complement Air France’s overall positioning strategy in the Quebec market?

‘It all ties back in with the idea that when a Quebecer thinks about flying to France that they instinctively and automatically think Air France,’ Schiefelbein says.

‘Now, with daily flights, the ad suggests, the link is even stronger and the reflex to choose Air France even quicker,’ she says.

The campaign also included billboards and a small, direct mail promotion. The mailer went to existing Air France customers and as an insert in La Presse a day in advance of the other ads ‘as a teaser,’ Schiefelbein says.

Schiefelbein was particularly pleased with the billboard campaign consisting of only three superboards strategically placed on local highways.

The billboards featured the graphic of the Air France jet, which, in the evening, displayed lights inside and outside of the plane.

The creative concept for the campaign was the one the agency developed when it pitched the account earlier this year.

‘We believed the image campaign, as established rscg, would also have to be complemented by local, tactical efforts as well,’ Schiefelbein says.

The ads did not run for a long time, and Schiefelbein would not disclose the budget, but the campaign had a high impact and served its purpose, she says.

The creative media strategy made the most of a limited budget.

‘Our competitors can easily outspend us,’ she says. ‘We had to do something to really stand out.’

The use of a jet as the key graphic element in an airline ad does not break any creative rules or challenge tried and true methods.

But the agency’s creative use of the flex-form format, the overall design of the ads and the guerilla media buy make this campaign a standout.