I woke up this morning to a new global ad campaign from Singapore Airlines called “World Class” and it’s amazing for reasons that they don’t describe in their release.
The campaign video shows a Singapore Airlines flight attendant connecting with people and cultures in her travels around the world. It’s this personal connection that allows the airline to deliver world class service every day. That’s not the real message of this campaign and this video.
The imagery from Barcelona, Mumbai, Singapore, Auckland and Shanghai is great. And showing a flight attendant traveling the world and bringing back her discoveries to the cabin was the crux of the airline’s fantastic “The Lengths We Go” 10 years ago, for instance attending a film festival in India and picking out movies for the KrisFlyer entertainment system, or serving tea on board discovered during thee travels.
Ignore the exoteric meaning of the campaign, and dig deeper for a more Straussian esoteric meaning. Look to the specific language in the video, and the cabin imagery.
It’s the unexpected six star hospitality, rather than a five star badge.
Because while first class is something you can buy, world class is everything we do.
The five star badge seems clearly aimed at Gulf carriers. In 2019 Etihad lost its 5 star rating from Skytrax, then a year and a half later is awarded a 5 star badge by APEX. Emirates also has 5 stars from APEX. I take Singapore’s point about these badges, in 2018 American Airlines was elevated to 5 stars by APEX as well.
Singapore Airlines is saying they’re real quality, in their DNA, they do the hard work and invest in the details. They built a model Airbus A380 using manila envelopes and the seats inside the plane even reclined. Dig beneath the surface and all the hidden details get attention. Tag line: “It’s the small details that make giants in the sky.”
It’s an ethic that was emphasized in the Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs, a belief (probably imbued as a young child by his father) that the internal workings nobody sees have to be just as high quality as everything on the surface. It’s no wonder that both Singapore Airlines and Apple are iconic brands.
After declaring the difference between first class (where you pay extra for a specific quality) and world class (where everything is quality), the video declares “Welcome to World Class” and they don’t show their Suites as emblematic of what that means. Instead they present a flight attendant standing in the aisle of economy. It’s their people and they are proud of their entire product.
Singapore offers amazing premium services – from their Suites with separate seat and bed, outstanding main meal service and wine program, not to mention excellent Lalique amenity kits – can legitimately brag about its coach service.
While Emirates uses an over-the-top first class product as a halo to mask an inferior business class, Singapore offers little touches even in the economy cabin.
Singapore offers more legroom than you’ll find on US airlines. But it goes beyond a basic seat. Coach gets a six-way adjustable headrest, and a padded seat for back support, as well as an adjustable foot bar (that’s something you get in premium economy usually on a U.S. carrier and not even domestic first class). Their coach seat has a cup holder and coat hook, and pouch for your phone that’s convenient to charging ports along with a large 11.1 inch touch screen video for watching their KrisFlyer entertainment system.
In economy you receive a pillow and a blanket, and they’re reasonable sized not postage-stamp sized. And while I haven’t checked in on their coach food in recent months, they always served the same meals in economy that they offered to premium economy passengers (though premium economy gets more choices and pre-order options, plus larger portions). Economy class passengers are served food I’d actually eat.
The real message of this campaign is, consistent with Singapore Airlines messaging over the last decade, they go to great lengths, invest in the details, and that shows up across their entire product. You can dig beneath the surface and find deep quality.