Airplanes have recently become a common marketing tool for the entertainment world, but the most latest marketing campaign has seen an airplane shed its skin to become a famous Star Wars robot.Mickey Mouse, Tin-Tin, The Simpsons, Pokémon, and even the latest Fast and the Furious, have all found themselves sprawled lavishly across the exterior of a plane. But the latest trend of aircraft advertising has been taken to the extreme. In 2012, Air New Zealand transformed a Boeing 777-300ER into a flying billboard for the latest move in “The Hobbit” franchise. Mike Tod, Air New Zealand general manager marketing and communications, said: “It’s very challenging for Air New Zealand to get that brand presence and that awareness because we don’t have a significant marketing budget, so by actually working in partnership with a movie that’s shot in New Zealand and shows New Zealand, it makes perfect sense.” The airline’s first Hobbit-themed effort – a flight safety video – is already a big hit. In 2013, the Taiwanese airline EVA Air took on board the success of Air New Zealand and tried to make every four-year-old traveler’s dream come true by creating a Hello-Kitty themed plane. That’s right, possibly the only frontier left for Hello Kitty, the skies, has been conquered. EVA Air has five different Hello Kitty planes around Japan, South Korea and China, and is looking to expand into the US. But there’s a twist: the inside of the plane has seen a transformation as well, and that includes the food.
EVA Air hoped the transformed Airbus A330-300 aircraft, inspired by the iconic fictional Japanese cartoon character, would provide a welcome boost to the struggling sector. However, Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) is about to take the title of “coolest” aircraft. It might not be the droid you’re looking for, but it is a plane that has been painted to look like R2-D2 from Star Wars. The promotional tie-in coincides with the release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, and was announced just after Star Wars fans were treated to leaked footage. The aircraft will enter service in the fall this year on a to-be-determined route, and will remain in its special livery for five years. This is how long the next series of Star Wars films will run for. The R2-D2 jet, which marks the start ANA’s “Star Wars” project, will include a range of novel initiatives, the airline announced on its website.
ANA suggested that it marks the first time a Star Wars character will appear on the exterior of a commercial aircraft. The company has also launched a new website – complete with theme music – dedicated to the R2-D2 jet. “We’re proud of the innovative R2-D2 design, and we look forward to witnessing the first-ever flight of a passenger aircraft featuring a Star Wars character. We’re confident that Star Wars fans around the world will absolutely love this design,” said Kayleen Walters, vice president of marketing at Lucasfilm. Be prepared to be taken to a galaxy far, far away when it lifts off 12 June. By Shané Schutte
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