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United Airlines to Debut New Commercials During the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games


New ads create an artistic interpretation of the emotions travelers feel when flying United’s new international service

CHICAGO. – As America tunes into the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, United will debut five commercials that capture the spirit of how relaxing and rewarding international travel is when flying in United’s new first and business class cabins.

United’s new commercials celebrate the ongoing rollout of its new international service that provides customers with flat-bed seats in first and business class, on-demand entertainment and gourmet cuisine. The ads are the latest addition to United’s “It’s Time to Fly” campaign that makes distinct emotional connections between United and business travelers – specifically those in international first and business class.

Created by artists from around the world, including South Africa and India, each of the six spots paints a picture of optimism and exploration using unique artistic forms such as shed bird feathers, colored sand and plastic modeling clay on glass. Custom scores of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue were performed by members of the L.A. Philharmonic Symphony and in one of the ads, Grammy award-winning American jazz legend, Herbie Hancock, and the classical world-renowned Chinese concert pianist, Lang Lang, who is performing live during the opening ceremonies, played a piano duet. The voiceover tag line is read by Robert Redford.

“Unveiling new ads during the Summer Olympics provides us with a high-profile, worldwide stage to effectively showcase the comforts of our new international first and business class service,” said Dennis Cary, senior vice president – Marketing. “As we roll out our new international premium travel experience, now is the optimal time to demonstrate to the global traveler that we understand how vastly important a truly lie-flat bed in both first and business class is to feeling relaxed and rewarded.”

The following 60-second and 30-second spots will air on NBC nationally and locally in Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. United’s “Sea Orchestra” commercial will debut nationally and locally during the Opening Ceremonies:

“Sea Orchestra” (60 seconds) – “Sea Orchestra” is a lively and visually rich commercial that introduces United’s new international first and business class cabins. In it, a United airplane crosses the ocean and is serenaded by an orchestra of animated sea creatures that are playing a unique version of Rhapsody in Blue using tubas, violins, French horns and the Indonesian gamelan. The score was created by Shy the Sun, a South Africa-based directing team, which used hand-drawn textures, computer animation characters and photographs of water, reefs and skies.

“Heart” (60-seconds) – “Heart,” United’s new brand ad, portrays the connection between a husband and wife and United’s role in reuniting them. The commercial depicts a woman leaving her husband to fly to Europe for a business presentation. As she says goodbye, she leaves her heart behind as a symbol of her love. The musical score for “Heart” is a piano duet of Rhapsody in Blue performed by Herbie Hancock and Lang Lang, who recently performed Rhapsody in Blue together at the 2007 Grammy Awards. Using stop-motion animation and paper puppetry, California-based director Jamie Caliri and his team, place dimensional cardboard puppets in miniature sets that were shot frame by frame.

“Two Worlds” (60 seconds) – “Two Worlds” is a celebration of color and beautiful images that portrays United’s effect on international travelers. In it, a weary business traveler leaves a mundane, monotonous black and white world and enters a fantasy of color, representing United’s new international first and business class service. When he lands, he is once again in a black and white world, but has brought a bit of the magic of the new United experience with him. The commercial combines two different and distinctive animation styles created by directors SSSR, a Norwegian and Japanese team, who was responsible for the monochromatic world that was mostly computer-generated with a hand-crafted feel, and Gaelle Denis, a French director, who was responsible for the colorful fantasy world that uses using live action, computer generation and matte paintings, including textures such as Japanese rice paper.

Moondust (60 seconds and 30 second) – “Moondust” is a luminous, dreamlike commercial with an artistic interpretation of flying in United’s new international first and business class cabins. The spot focuses on United’s 180-degree, flat-bed business class seats and is animated to a spare, intimate interpretation of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Ishu Patel, an Indian-born and Canadian-based animator, used his world-renowned back-lit technique in which a thin layer of plastic modeling clay is applied to a glass plate that has a 1000-watt light positioned beneath it and an animation camera above it.

Butterfly (30 seconds) – “Butterfly” is a fluid, animated commercial with an artistic interpretation of flying in United’s new international first and business class cabins. The spot focuses on United’s 180-degree flat-bed business class seats and comes to life against a violin version of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. In this spot, the Polish director Aleksandra Korejwo manipulated colored salt using shed condor bird feathers on a black canvas positioned under a downward-facing camera.

United’s new commercials are the first spots that have been created by its new ad agency, BD’M, whose two founding partners -- Bob Barrie and Stuart D’Rozario -- were instrumental in the creation of the “It’s Time to Fly” campaign in 2005. The campaign has earned the Gold Effie Award for marketing effectiveness and was nominated for an Emmy Award.

As an Official Airline Sponsor of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team, United has been flying America’s team for 28 years.


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