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Emirates ‘Upgrade your airline / Y&R London

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We’ve all climbed aboard an airplane and sighed as we walk down to the economy area, glancing back at the upper-class section. We’ve never been there but we’ve heard it’s where dreams come true –  the priority boarding, the comfy seats, the food served on China plates with real cutlery, the unlimited bar, the leg room, the personal space… And we’ve all heard the stories of fellow average Joes spontaneously asking their airline for a free upgrade to this paradise and receiving one, giving hope to us all that we too could one day reap the rewards of this shockingly unaffordable area. In reality, the free upgrade thing rarely happens. However, this doesn’t stop people from trying (pretty much anything) to get one. Emirates airline has used this as the subject of its latest campaign, highlighting the various ways which people will try and bag themselves a better seat.


The airline has released a series of humorous 30-second spots, created by Y&R London, which see people trying to persuade the desk assistants of unnamed airlines to upgrade their flight in all manner of ways, from the more subtle techniques of being overly polite, showering them with compliments and bribing them with flowers, to the more extreme approaches such as feigning heavy pregnancy or conducting hypnosis. The short films see the unimpressed assistants rolling their eyes as passengers pull out all the stops knowing full well that they won’t be giving them an upgrade.



One 30-second format is a montage a various people’s upgrade attempts followed by a shot of a man strolling up to the neighbouring Emirates desk and laughing to himself as he watches the other people desperately jump through hoops to get an upgrade. The other three spots each focus on a particular upgrade wangling method: the ‘special occasion’ trick, the ‘serenade’ trick and the ‘special powers’ trick. Each film cleverly ends by suggesting that rather than upgrading their seat, passengers should ‘upgrade their airline’, stating that Emirates’ economy class is the best in the world and supporting this with a TripAdvisor certificate stamp on-screen.



Emirates' new campaign is interesting as it is a huge jump from its previous work starring Jennifer Anniston which focused on its premium offering. The new work positions the airline as one accessible to all, not just those that can fork out for one of its extravagant cabins.


Despite not actually showing us in the ads what Emirates’ economy class actually looks like or what its benefits are over other airlines, the spots put forward the idea of switching to Emirates in such a convincing way that, if people don’t immediately go and book Emirates seats, they will certainly get researching and educating themselves on its economy offering and have it in mind the next time they choose who to fly with.


Emirates’ SVP of Corporate Communications, Marketing, and Brand said of the campaign, ‘In today’s environment where others are stripping amenities from their cabins and shrinking legroom, we believe travelers can relate to the desperate lengths that some people might go to, in order to get their seat upgraded. Our message is simple – why try so hard to upgrade your seat when you can fly Emirates instead?’


The campaign will run worldwide in Emirates’ key markets including the UK, US, Brazil, France and Australia.