Insights for Destination & Leisure Marketers

Retro Ad of the Week: American Airlines, 1949

November 29 | Posted by: | Retro Ad of the Week, Travel

airline travel advertising 1949

Can you imagine the thought of airline travel in 1949? Taking flight must have been a mind-boggling experience – fraught with excitement, anxiety, disbelief, and allure. Surely, it must have taken a decent amount of courage to step aboard a commercial flight. This retro American Airlines ad from 1949 addresses these concerns right up front:

“Here I am — the fellow who would never fly!”

The early days of air travel were all about luxury. Casually seated as though in his own living room, this gentleman is the pinnacle of relaxation. Comfortably reclined with a cigarette in hand, the only clue that he’s soaring through the sky is the other airplane seen through his window. This scene conveys a message that there is nothing to fear about this most extraordinary experience, reassuring even the most anxious travelers. (It doesn’t hurt that he has more legroom than we see in today’s business class, either).

What’s particularly interesting about the copy is the positioning of American Airlines as a brand. The only mention is an attribution at the end of the copy, making the brand appear as a trustworthy resource. In other words, it’s a sample of content marketing before it was called content marketing.

FUN FACT: Airline travel today is a far cry from the luxurious experience it was in its earlier days. Table linens, carved chateaubriand, Russian caviar, champagne, corsages, and cigars were all par for the course. But try not to dwell on that, and enjoy your free pretzels on your next flight anyway.