The campaign, the first leg of Y&R's estimated $50 million international effort, keeps the flavor of United's U.S. campaign from domestic agency Fallon McElligott-the first to use "Rising"-but takes on United's special overseas challenge of building brand awareness and credibility.
"This will tackle perceived low brand awareness overseas, where our image is either confused or non-existent-we're fairly new," said Jonathan Sumner, United manager of international advertising and promotions. "U.S. airlines tend to be lumped together. We're seeking to stand out."
A BOY AND HIS DOG
A TV spot depicts a freckled boy and his dog playing with a model airplane near an oceanside hill when a biplane rises behind him, followed by a series of more modern planes, including United's newest 777.
"It all began with the mail," Mr. Brando says in the voice-over as he gives a brief history of aviation.
Print ads focus on particulars of the airline, such as one that shows a hand-written pie chart explaining, "You've got $710 million to improve the life of the business traveler. How do you spend it?"
By tying into history and raising the chellenge of rising to meet travelers' expectations, the Y&R work is linked to Fallon's $70 million U.S. campaign, which kicked off earlier this summer.
'AT A TURNING POINT'
"It's probably the most consistent thing we've ever done," Mr. Sumner said. "We felt quite strongly that we're at a turning point, and decided it was feasible to develop a truly global image. What really struck us was that there was more that united the international business traveler than what was different."
Still, he added, "We're being careful that it translates in all markets, which is no mean challenge in itself."
NEW PLAYER OVERSEAS
United has been in Latin America just five years, six in Europe and 10 in the Asia/Pacific region.
"We have a much different job initially than Fallon," said Ted Bell, Y&R vice chairman and worldwide creative director. "The international traveler has no idea about United-our job was to give them instant credentials and attach a stature and grandeur."
Mr. Bell said that selecting Mr. Brando was "another brick in the wall of building an icon brand."
Another TV execution is in the works that "picks up where this one leaves off," Mr. Bell said.
NEW ADS FOR ALLIANCE
United's Star Alliance with its partners that include Lufthansa German Airlines, Thai Airways International, Scandinavian Airlines System and Canadian Airlines International also will get new ads in its $25 million annual effort-also handled by Y&R-by yearend.
"We're looking at the next phase," Mr. Sumner said.
Separately, Minneapolis-based Fallon has begun a new campaign behind Shuttle by United, the carrier's West Coast operation.
With a focus shift from leisure travelers to business people, print and radio ads citing departure frequency and the frequent-flier program are breaking in nine cities with TV hitting by the end of September.