Expect the Unexpected, the China Air way

24 Jul,2019


By Sanjeev Kotnala


In India, China Airline has a biweekly service between Delhi and Taipei. It accounts for some 0.1% of the total international air traffic in and out of India. Most likely that I would have missed seeing this brilliant communication from the airline, thanks for one of the updates from Campaign magazine.

Brands usually associate with advantages, opportunities and positivity in life. They want the target audience to link these with their usage. They want to engage and involve the target audience, mostly good things. Many times all the brands start getting guided with the same category ethos and promises.

It is no different in the case of airlines. Safety, Luxury, taste, entertainment systems, the gourmet serving, comfort and pleasing smile of the in-flight crew are hygiene for airline brands. It has long been so. Earlier in the year 1995 or even 2010, China Air spoke a language deeply soaked in category clues.

Fortunately, China Air has moved on. It has broken free of the category expectations, the constraints and the blinkers.  Thankfully, unlike KLM, it is not another purpose-led #FlyResponsibly Campaign.

China Air Is Seriously Taking On The Unexpected.

Getting married or even pregnant, injured or cursed, love and hate- everything is an unexpected possibility. Flying takes you to different cities and countries, creating that window of uncertainty when you are in a new place and meet new people. China Airline “What Travel brings you,” Campaign is a beautifully crafted disruptive work by the agency Leo Burnett Taiwan that speaks to the new tribe of travellers.

“What Travel brings you” is the celebration of the unexpected.  It is an insightful and engaging campaign. It speaks the language of a traveller and connects at multiple levels.

Travel adds to the life of a traveller. With every journey, a traveller becomes richer with the knowledge and experience after every travel. Some of these are planned and expected, some really unexpected. Each of these experiences impacts the way the traveller shapes future decisions. Travel impacts our lives. Trust me, it is the unexpected that makes the journey worthwhile.

A for the unexpected, “You never know what travel will bring into your life…. Let’s go find out”, is a powerful summation of the thought and an invitation to travel.

The Unexpected – Unexpected China Air.

The team has thoughtfully picked up brilliant examples of the unexpected. A campaign like this can remain as fresh as the list of unexpected consequences. As every city, community, tribe, nature and geography has something unique, the campaign also boosts the traveller seeking more than mere physical experience. I have a huge expectation from the unexpected. And wish that the China Air brand association with the thought were a lot stronger. Till now it seems to work for travel promotion, not necessary China Air promotion.

It is a bold campaign. You do end up watching it a few times. It breaks free of the stereotyped over-exploited category clues and charts a new territory that the audience relates to. Here are some of the unexpected you encounter in the China Air campaign. Plastic surgery from Seoul, and now her face does not match the ID. The marriage certificate signed at Las Vegas’ instantaneous no-question asked weddings. The injuries one got at the Ski trip. Surprises win at a casino in Macao. The extra inches at the waist after the Bangkok trip. A tattoo that is no longer wanted. A statue that is spooky from Edinburgh. And even the unexpected pregnancy a souvenir from a Gold Coast trip.

On first viewing, it seems the airline has purposely picked up the bad experiences. Slowly when you start looking back at your own experiences, you start appreciating the campaign more. It does add a smile to your face.

On the side.

I don’t know, but there are reports that China Air invited 60 women with an unexpected pregnancy and discussed the geographical origin of the pregnancy, ultimately awarding one of them with a three-week stay to revisit the destination.


China Air’s earlier campaigns

It is not that China Airline always talked this language.  This particular ad made me check and see their earlier communication “The Trip You Have Promised,” Wow, another gem. The guilt of postponing promised trips.  It was a great way to remind a large section of potential travellers of their own bucket list and promises.

And way back in 1995, you really did not expect anyone breaking the category code. The campaign “We Blossom Every Day”.

Earlier like everyone else in the 1980s, they were also busy Cherishing Every Encounter.


PS.: AIR CHINA Vs. CHINA AIR. Air China (CA) was founded relatively recently in 1988 and is the national airline of China. It became a member of Star Alliance in December 2007. China Airlines (CI) was founded in 1959 and is both the flag carrier and the largest airline of Taiwan.


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