Refreshed and ready for business

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It is an advertising dogfight as the world's leading airlines scrap to convince businesspeople that they're the best carrier to help them hit the ground running after enduring flights as long as 16 hours. Flying overseas in the lap of luxury is no longer good enough. The globe-trotting executive must almost be oblivious to the experience from the looks of a variety of ads from the airlines. ¶ An ad for British Airways' Business Class features a chef at the check-in counter who promises to serve passengers a gourmet preflight meal so they can get right to sleep in one of the section's flat beds that allows for a 180-degree angle of repose. Why waste time aboard the aircraft sipping champagne and nibbling on caviar when the Sandman awaits? Copy is especially soothing: "Our goal is simple: to deliver the best service you could ask for, without having to ask."

We especially liked another British Airways ad for its Business Class service. In a perfectly lit scene, a man lies sound asleep on a giant bed beneath a down comforter that's crumpled into the shapes of the continents with the names of the cities the airline serves. The comforter is the backdrop for the most clever flight map we've ever seen. The image not only underscores the point about a restful flight, but it shows British Airways' global reach.

Air France depicts a woman at rest in a grassy field beneath a night sky lit by the airline's hundreds of destinations. But this execution can't hold a candle to British Airways' ad. The flight map doesn't list actual destinations as British Airways' does. And, frankly, we'd rather sleep in a bed instead of on the grass: too many bugs and mosquitoes.

Somehow we're not convinced the man in the ANA Business Class ad is sleeping. Bright sunshine pours through the windows, not to mention there's not a hair on his head that's out of place. Copy in the ad is prosaic enough to induce sleep. It's primarily a recitation of the airline's service to Tokyo from gateways in the U.S.

More inviting is an ad for Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates. Even though there's not a human presence, the ad suggests that a passenger will feel right at home aboard one of its luxury lights from New York to the Persian Gulf. The art direction and the lighting are exquisite. It has the look of a four-star hotel with the bed turned down and small bouquet of flowers, a dessert and magazine awaiting the passenger. The headline is a great match: "The fastest route to Abu Dhabi, though you'll wish it wasn't."

Finally, there's a spread from Korean Air that goes to great lengths to associate its sleeper seat with relaxation. The sleeper seat itself is awarded heroic treatment on the right side of the spread as it basks in the brilliance of white space. A workmanlike burst of copy explains that each seat is equipped with personal audiovisual on-demand systems for waking moments.

The left side of the spread is devoted to a "Hollywood Squares"-style menagerie of mostly cuddly animals blissfully at rest. The borrowed interest is not only eye-catching, but it works. It says Korean Air will wake you on the other side of the world refreshed and ready for business. M

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