Holiday Ad of the Week: United Airlines’ Love in Plane Sight marries Hallmark movies with product placement

(Photo credit: United Airlines, used with permission)
(Photo credit: United Airlines, used with permission)

It’s long compared to typical holiday ads, but worth the time.

Just briefly: Like Campaign US creative editor Sabrina Sanchez, I am a big fan of the holidays. And when I started thinking about my favorite ads, I couldn’t help but reminisce about two classics: Campbell's Melting Snowman and Corona's O'Tennanpalm.

Much has been written about why these ads endure, so I won’t reinvent the wheel. Watch them below for a trip down memory lane…:

Another familiar sight during the holidays is Hallmark movies. And this year, United Airlines decided to create its own spin with Love in Plane Sight.

Behind the scenes: The nearly six-minute video is both an ode to Hallmark movies, as well as a clever product placement vehicle. In the short film, United tells a holiday love story while also showcasing its gingerbread lattes, premium seating and (presumably) its plans for sustainable aviation fuel.

The airline taps into well-known Hallmark tropes like the single woman traveling home alone for the holidays and a less-than-ideal initial encounter with Mr. Right. As the spot proceeds, it captures the serendipity of holiday magic.

It reminds me of WestJet’s Christmas Miracle. You may recall way back in 2013, the Canadian airline asked passengers what they wanted for Christmas before they boarded a flight — and then bought, wrapped and delivered those presents to said customers when they arrived at baggage claim. It’s a feel-good stunt that has since racked up 50 million views on YouTube:

United’s own feel-good holiday moment has just over 37,000 views so far, after being released on November 16.  

The message: In my opinion, the campaign is worth a watch for both entertainment value as well as an example of creative that delivers brand messaging in a format that’s easy to consume. The six minutes go by quickly and it’s more memorable than many of the holiday ads I’ve seen over the years.


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