I think the new Singapore Airlines “world class” ad campaign is a masterpiece, but also adds a subtle touch of defiance that pushes back against not only Gulf carriers, but carriers that have gone woke.
Singapore Airlines World Class Ad Campaign
Start by watching the ad:
In terms of cinematography, this is a masterful ad. But let’s dig a bit deeper.
First, the ad attempts to distinguish Singapore Airlines from Gulf carriers:
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.
(Flight attendants from some Gulf carriers wear badges proclaiming that their airline is five-star)
And the word “unexpected” is key, especially (as VFTW also noted) when you finally see the Singapore Girl (the name given to female flight attendants) standing onboard in economy class, not Suites Class.
I’ve flown economy class on Singapore Airlines before and it really is a much more “humane” experience than so many airlines. Think hot towels, amenity kits, silverware, and most importantly sufficient legroom for every passenger.
But here’s the thing: I receive great service on Gulf carriers too. And all those things I mentioned above are available on carriers like Qatar Airways and Emirates too. Flight attendants are great too.
I don’t think that Singapore Airlines is objectively better than Qatar Airways in economy class.
Thus, I think we have to dig even deeper. Could it be that this ad campaign offers an even more subtle pushback against what we’ve seen from other carriers concerning personal autonomy?
A point of clarification. I don’t use woke as a pejorative as much as a descriptive trend from carriers in the West to embrace individuality at the expense of uniformity (we’ve discussed that quite a bit here). Think visible tattoos, piercings, and abandoning traditional gendered uniforms.
Do you notice that the ad starts with the very feminine flight attendant applying makeup, throughout the ad she maintains her impeccable appearance (at least as measured by traditional norms of gender appearance), and in the end is pictured in her sarong kebaya?
Singapore Airlines continue to embrace this traditionally-gendered look for female flight attendants, even as it has come under pressure for doing so and neighboring Malaysia Airlines is considering ditching the sarong kebaya for female flight attendants.
Here’s how Singapore describes its new ad campaign:
“At Singapore Airlines, service excellence is deeply ingrained in our DNA and our customers are at the heart of everything we do. This campaign highlights our unwavering commitment to deliver a world-class travel experience, no matter the duration of the journey. Our award-winning cabin crew are central to this promise, with their rich and diverse experiences, as well as their dedication to customer service, having a positive impact on everyone around them.”
And yet the focus is on the woman: not only her inner beauty in her display of service, but on her outer beauty. From the very start of the ad.
Western airlines have focused on letting flight attendants cultivate their own look, arguing that it will lead to better service onboard. But appearance itself is still a central part of the package on Singapore Airlines.
The bottom line is that Singapore Airlines wants you to recall its great service onboard. Yet this new ad campaign does more than that, drawing a deeper distinction between its peers both in the West and Middle East. At Singapore Airlines, you can expect beautiful service inside and out. It’s still about the look, even if you have to read between the lines.
The Singapore Girl is still at the heart of Singapore Airlines’ identity.