Official Super Bowl airline American Airlines uses a minute of Super Bowl airtime to link, without exactly saying as much, the heroic pilots of the 1986 Tom Cruise hit "Top Gun" with its own flight crews.
The ad via Bozell didn't even begin as a Super Bowl commerical, but won a Super Bowl budget once the client saw the work, co-writer David Everitt-Carlson said later:
The insight here involved people wanting to feel confident in their air travel and the fact that the great majority of pilots hired by American came from military backgrounds. For filming we built an entire air force at an abandoned runway at the Mojave, CA airport, used boneyard planes, repainted and towed around by cables and worked for three days in 117 degree heat with no casualties. ...
The commercial won a Gold Addy, was Clio shortlisted and nominated for a DGA award for cinematography - but most importantly helped position the client in a leadership role at a time when airlines were being heavily criticized for lax service and operating procedures.
The ad followed American Airlines' "Reward Trip" from the 1987 game, another minute-long ad with more focus than you'd often see in later Super Bowl advertising.
Director: Terry Bedford. Production company: RSA Films (co-founded by "Top Gun" director Tony Scott).
Copywriter and art director: David Everitt-Carlson. Copywriter: Patrick Scullin.
BRAND: American Airlines