Every few years Singapore Airlines puts its creative agency brief out and each time I feel a pang. Big brands you think you once did important work for are a bit like ex-girlfriends; you’ve moved on but you’re a tiny bit in love still.
I worked on the account as a planner at the legendary (to those of a certain age) Batey Ads in Singapore and prior to that was a speechwriter for the CEO and a number of his brilliant team who created the airline after Singapore’s traumatic separation from Malaysia in 1965. With not much more than a bunch of old planes and some international routes, they established a business that literally linked the island state to the world and a brand that gave some fame and allure to a young and unknown nation making its way in what was then a tough and unsympathetic neighbourhood
The agencies competing and the Singapore Airlines team deciding on the firm and then the work has the hardest of jobs. How do you modernize an advertising masterpiece and re-kindle some of that lost magic and yet stay faithful to that rarest of things; an idea that remains compelling, universal and timeless and which is so closely associated with the brand all over the world?
I wish them all the very best of luck. Or perhaps as Ian Batey might have said: “Don’t fuck it up”.
Here’s fuller story of the creation of the brand, the Singapore Girl and the commitment to the idea that the ‘journey is the destination’ that guided it over the past 60 years.
And here’s what Arthur C. Clarke said was the future of aviation when I asked on behalf of the airline.