Singapore Airlines edges away from the 'Singapore Girl' image

By David Flynn, December 27 2013
Singapore Airlines edges away from the 'Singapore Girl' image

Singapore Airlines is taking a measured step away from the iconic 'Singapore Girl' who has traditionally been at the heart of its advertising campaigns.

But in its newest advertisements, tagged The Lengths We Go To, the airline shifts the emphasis from its highly recogniseable flight attendants towards the airlines' overall attitude of customer service, particularly around providing the experience and comfort of 'home'.

Ahead of the advert's debut, Singapore Airlines released this five-minute video clip about the making of the campaign.

In the new spot – shot in China, Venice and Scotland – it's more about the passenger than the flight attendant.

"The campaign is very much about the spirit of Singapore Airlines and the lengths that we go to make sure that each and every customer feels at home, feels that their needs are anticipated and taken care of" explains Sheldon Hee, Singapore Airlines' VP of marketing communications and development.

(The 'comfort of home' factor rates high in SQ's book, with the airline using similar terms to describe the inflight environments provided by its new first class suites and business class seats.)

The spots have been created by agency TBWA, whose head of strategy Robin Nayak says "as times change, the brand needs to evolve with those changes… what we wanted to do was create a fresher, more relevant, contemporary look for the airline."

The 'Singapore Girl' first appeared some 40 years ago, and she's since become a powerful brand ambassador for Singapore Airlines and a unique differentiator from other airlines – although not without attracting criticism for being sexist and portraying a stereotypical Asian woman.

Here's one of the first Singapore Girl commercials from the early 1970s:

Many Australians will fondly recall this TV advertisement which introduced the phrase "Singapore Girl, you're a great way to fly" into our cultural vocabulary. 

More recently, Singapore Airlines kept the Singapore Girl at the centre of their world but played up the theme of ever-attentive customer service.

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 526

The Singapore Girl is an iconic part of Singapore Airlines so it is a little sad that they are moving away from her. Have to say though... If there is an airline that knows how to do ads, it's Singapore Airlines.

Star Alliance

02 Sep 2013

Total posts 2

It is indeed sad to see such a Iconic feature of SIA being replaced.

It has afterall served the Airline very well since the 1970.

We know their are Stewards on Board that give the same excellent service, but I am sure they do not mind!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2013

Total posts 1

I think the time is right.  The Singapore Girl is an iconic advertising presence and the airline's consistency of messaging is to be applauded. But the premise that underpinned her role has changed over time.

Indeed, SQ's challenge has been how to move on with an icon when the time is right.

Shifting the focus to the customer and how flying SQ makes you feel, makes great sense as an evolution of the brand, as does the pre-launch which again tells a story.

Look forward to seeing both its evolution and the competitive response

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 5

Long live the Singapore girl . . !

But please, Pierre Cardin, allow the lovlies some cloth for full big breath expansion in your next design.  ;-)

American Airlines - AAdvantage

04 Jul 2012

Total posts 15

Why show places that SQ does not even fly to? Venice, Scotland...? 

Sad that the Singapore Girl identity is lost after this ad.

I'm sticking with Cathay Pacific from now on..

Good move. I'm certain Singapore Airlines is finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain highly educated, good looking and petite women, with Singapore's maturing economy. Since wages cannot be increased in an environment of cost cutting the effect has been to recruit from neighbouring Asian countries and/or taking on more Singaporean girls with perhaps less of an X factor. 

So perhaps it's wise to focus attention away from the Singapore Girl.

Question is; if Singapore Airlines does not have the Singapore Girl, what does it have? What is Singapore Airline's competitive advantage?

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