Branding Videos Are Tough During The Pandemic. American Airlines Pulls It Off.

Over the weekend the new American Airlines safety video leaked featuring crew in their new uniforms, and the airline’s new messaging. It wasn’t intended to be used yet – apparently it was meant to be debuted at the end of the month at a planned media event that has been canceled – and it doesn’t speak to the moment. I imagine the video will be revised in light of new social distancing standards on board.

This is a challenge to get right. It’s really hard to do corporate messaging during the current crisis, as this ad montage shows.

American though is out with a new video, You Are Why We Fly. That’s not one of American’s new slogans (e.g. “caring for people on life’s journey”) but does harken back to one of the airline’s more important messages of the past: we know why you fly.

That message used to speak to an understanding of the customer, whether a family trying to get somewhere or a business traveler coming home. The idea was that decisions are made with passenger needs front and center.

Now ‘you are why we fly’ speaks to why they keep going in the face of unprecedented challenges, why they continue the business with fares so low and planes so empty, why employees travel from place to place and continue to interact with customers at the airport and on board even in the face of the global pandemic.

American says,

Team members are featured in a variety of ways including a small photo/video shoot and user-generated content from social media.

…The intent of this video is to create a timely, uplifting, reassuring message that recognizes the current state of the world and American’s role in serving essential travelers during this difficult time. We wanted to recognize the important work our teams are doing to serve these travelers today and give future travelers confidence in American being there for them in the future.

The new message is featured on airport video screens,, and on our social channels including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Here’s the video:

I actually think they did a really nice job with this. At the very end where they say the one reason they keep flying is you, I cried. I don’t cry often but I admit I’ve done so earlier this month, too.

After a great deal of criticism American began allowing flight attendants to wear masks, and now masks are featured prominently in their advertising. To give customers a sense that travel is safe, they need to emphasize the steps they’re taking for safety and cleanliness and that includes demonstrating their own hygiene. And if they can do that while creating a connection with customers and answering the criticism over their continuing to fly empty planes (because they’re required to by the terms of the federal CARES Act bailout), so much the better.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. To bad it doesn’t show any real reality to the real customer experience @AA
    Fake News and sentiment well executed by the creators
    Would be great if you swap out the American logo for Alaska and then it’s actually somewhat believable

  2. Having worked in marketing for travel related companies and now an essential service marketing department (Power and Water), this has been one of the toughest times to determine what your message should be.
    AA knocked it out of the park and this really hit home for me . My mother is dying in Hospice care in PHL. Until recently, no one could visit her, she was alone and scared. We finally got the okay to visit and flying from PHX was preferred over us driving (don’t get me start on that battle). AA has been a God send when I have needed to be there and more importantly now.
    My sister and Dad are with her now and my wife and I will be making more trips.
    Yes, we need to fly right now for what matters most. . .our family and providing supplies to support the front line workers in this battle.
    Thanks to the airlines who are doing what is right for all of us. Thank you AA for getting me to be with my Mom for maybe the last time. God bless us all, stay safe, and prayer for each other.

  3. I really don’t get branding and advertising when what is shown is so different than the product or service. Except Asian and ME carriers US and European carriers absolutely suck and advertising and brand videos make me more angry with the implied message being you are so stupid you will believe our messaging (There are exceptions ….but that’s what they are, exceptions)

  4. Actually, it took the Scott Kirby cronies to be silenced. I think a new American was emerging before all this, but this will push it out faster.

  5. The middle eastern carriers aren’t real profit and loss businesses. They will be shells of their former selves with $10 or less oil. The US and European carriers run actual businesses that have to make money.

  6. BRAVO AA. If in this time we cant see the good in companies and people, we never will. I have been an AA EXP for over 20 years – last 10 with over 500K miles a year. I am proud of what they do and will give my business to an airline that gets the job done. Dont get me wrong, I love QR and CX (and yes, BA), but given the circumstances and resources to work with – AA wins hands down for me, every time.

  7. Now let’s see this run on cable news across America. This message is too important to be limited to you tube and local spots in hub and focus cities. Get it out there in front of broad audiences before the imitators emerge.

  8. Maybe I’ve gotten a bit jaded after the last few years, but I’m getting tired of the mixed messages coming out of AA. While I appreciate the video and think it was well done, the reality is that they are continuing to worsen their product by retrofitting to Oasis (which is an insulting project name considering the product itself) DURING this pandemic.

    Is cramming an additional 12 seats into planes and shrinking lavs to an unsanitary level where it’s impossible to not touch the walls due to the lack of space really looking out for “you” the flyer?

    If they reverse course on Oasis and actually work to improve the passenger experience then I’m all in. Otherwise, this sort of PR just pisses me off.

    BTW – I’m EXP for the past several years and 2MM Lifetime PLT. Will likely switch to Delta when flying resumes – while I’m sure they have their own issues, they seem to actually be walking the walk and working to improve the customer experience.

  9. Did you say that American Airlines is pulling it off? I don’t buy it, period. Come on, it did not even bother adding captions/subtitles for 48 million Americans with hearing disabilities as required under the Americans With Disabilities Act! I mean Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deafened and so forth.

  10. So it’s for our benefit that AA raised the cost of checking bags on its transatlantic flights?

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