On Sunday, September 22, we aired the first of four television commercials as part of our “Fly the Friendly Skies” brand campaign. The TV spots feature a newly recorded version of George Gershwin's classic "Rhapsody in Blue” – the musical score for United since 1987.
The first ad appeared during Sunday’s PGA Golf Tournament, the NFL games and the Primetime Emmy Awards and features classical musicians performing while seated onboard one of our aircraft. Flight attendants and pilots (actual co-workers) also appear in the ad.
The commercial inspired a flurry of activity on our social channels – primarily Facebook and Twitter. Our customers’ questions focused mainly on the aircraft and the musicians. For example, Delores C. posted on our Facebook wall: “Saw this commercial for the first time yesterday and was very impressed, not only by the underlying ‘there's plenty of room’ message but also by the beautiful instrumental performance - thanks :)”
Here we provide answers to the most popular questions we received.
Many customers remarked on the aircraft in the ad and wanted to know if it was real. When Andy B. tweeted, “No way there is enough room on a @united flight to play a trombone. #Emmys,” our social media team responded: “Yes way. It was filmed onboard an actual 767-300ER.” “Touché,” Andy B. replied.
To film the scene at the end of the commercial, with the overhead shot showing the cabin, we ran tracks in the aisles of the actual aircraft and built a camera rig that rode overhead, down the aisles. For a few of the scenes – for example, the overhead view of the timpani – it was necessary to shoot on a sound stage to get the precise angles we were looking for. We recreated the interior of the aircraft exactly as our customers experience it, down to the finest detail. All of the seats were measured and positioned in the exact location as on the aircraft.
In answer to customers’ questions about all the musicians and instruments really fitting onboard the aircraft, yes, the musicians fit in our Economy and Economy Plus seating.
Customers were also curious about the musical instruments fitting in the overhead bin. In the commercial, you see the musician removing the French horn from the bin. Yes, it really fits in there as would many of the smaller instruments. (Of course, you’d store your instrument in its carrying case.) The timpani would not, but it had its own seat in BusinessFirst. For our policy on transporting musical instruments on board as carry-ons, view our baggage page on united.com about high-value, fragile items.
Rhapsody in Blue
We received questions about the version of Rhapsody in Blue used in the commercial and the musicians shown on board the aircraft. The people on the plane are musicians who played from sheet music provided for each of their instruments and the specific parts they were playing – for example, Violin 1, Violin 2. A music producer conducted and led the onboard orchestra during the filming. The orchestration and movements of the musicians onboard the plane were matched very carefully with the music you hear in the ad, which was arranged by Conrad Pope, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and recorded specifically for United at Abbey Road Studios.
If you have a question for us about our new “Fly the Friendly Skies” commercials, we’d love to hear from you. Just post a comment at the bottom of this article or talk to us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.