20 June 2006

Travel Advertisements

On BBC World (a news channel like CNN) and other international channels (like CNN International and Eurosport), there are not many commercials, and those they have seem to be limited to things that are travel oriented. So you don’t find commercials for products like clothes, household goods, cars or other such things. Instead the commercials are about places of the world they entice you to visit, or possibly about ways of getting to those places (e.g. advertisements for airlines). I find these advertisements interesting for a couple of reasons. First they each seem to look for a hook including a slogan to get people interested in the country or airline. Secondly, there are only a handful of places that advertise over and over. They are perhaps less developed countries, maybe those that depend on tourism. So there are ads for Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Croatia, and Montenegro, but also UAE and New Zealand. I have seen no ads for Western Europe, Northern Europe, Asia or the Americas. It may just be that in this part of the world they play ads geared to the Mediterranean (with a few other places like New Zealand thrown in). But I have not seen any ads for Italy, France, or Spain, which one might think would fit the Mediterranean theme, nor for other places in North Africa (besides Egypt). Maybe elsewhere they play very different travel ads. Or maybe only countries largely dependent on tourism pay for these advertisements.

Anyway, I thought I’d share some of the highlights of some of the more memorable of the slogans and a few other details of these ads. What they indicate about the nature of tourism and travel I will leave for us all to consider.

New Zealand: “100% pure escape,” and “100% New Zealand” flashes in writing on the screen at various points, to a song with the repeating lyric, “You’ve been waiting, you’ve been waiting for so long” all while they show endlessly beautiful scenes of mountains, forests, oceans, and lakes, and young, beautiful people looking like they’re having a great time there (one scene shows them being welcomed by Maoris on the beach – who are happily offering them fresh seafood).

Egypt: “Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera, where the sun always shines, every day of every year.” This comes after they show many scenes of scuba diving, swimming (with dolphins), many beautiful women in bathing suits sitting by pools or walking on beach. One very tanned woman in a striking white suit and very high heals saunters along the beach – you see only her body, no head.

Greece: “Live your myth!” is flashed on the screen at the end after many scenes of various people (some Greek, some tourists, some combinations) dancing happily to lively, traditional music in various interesting settings – on boats, in villages, in restaurants with flaming food being served, etc.

Croatia: “The Mediterranean as it once was” is announced after many scenes of various lovely coastal towns (Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar) and islands, along with scenes of people swimming in the aqua blue waters, scuba diving (and finding interesting undersea artifacts), sailing, etc. I rather like this ad, though I’ve heard a few Croatian people say how sick they are of it.

Others of which I remember fewer details include: Cyprus (showing beaches and towns), Emirates (showing high rise luxury hotels on beaches), Montenegro (showing mountains and dramatic coastlines), Maldives (with the slogan “the sunny side of life”).

Airlines advertisements I remember include the following examples.

Turkish Air has one that states, “The skies are changing” as they kind of morph a floral pattern common in pottery there into an airplane. A man with a very deep voice and a slight accent makes the slow pronouncement about change.

Air France has a trendy couple lounging beside a cool pool with soft but insistent, kind of synthetic background music. The woman dives in just as the beeping noise of an airplane announcement signals and says to “prepare your seat for landing.” She sleekly climbs out of the pool as the water therein tilts to one side (as though it’s in an airplane which is turning), back into her lounging chair, which is meant to represent her airline seat. She and her cool male companion glance at each other in self satisfaction in their seats.

Also many Asian airlines have ads that typically show beautiful, smiling, serene looking Asian women standing by watching and ready to cater to the every whim of (typically) a middle aged white man lounging in a luxurious airline seat. Usually they show only one passenger on the airplane, this man who seems to have a virtual bedroom to himself, with the Asian woman there to attend to his needs.

Delta shows a bear and wolf sanctuary and then people sleeping in comfortable seats while beautiful women prepare wine for them and close their shades. It flashes “bear sanctuary” and “wolf sanctuary” on the screen (with nice pictures of bear and wolves in their snowy habitats) before you even know what the ad is for. Then you see people looking very relaxed in their airplane seats while beautiful women attend to their needs.

The idea of airplanes as sanctuaries, swimming pools, or bedrooms, places that are quiet, serene, and tended over by beautiful women is the common theme, it seems.

Emirates Airlines also has a series of ads right now focusing on football (meaning soccer in American terms), showing white and Arab or African people interacting by playing football together. The slogan is “We all speak one language” (meaning football). You don't know the ad is for an airline until the very end.

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