France, in the media: A depressed, immobile and arrogant nation turned towards her once glorious past.

France, in Air France’s ambitious new advertising campaign: Traditional yet modern, dynamic and enjoying the finest things in life with panache and joie de vivre.

It is unfortunate Air France made the headlines this Fall because of a costly and damaging strike that lasted several weeks. A few months earlier the company was in the news for an entirely different reason.

Like Orangina, another iconic French brand Air France has always invested in advertising. Collectors covet vintage posters of the company’s past advertising efforts. The spring 2014 campaign was a hit with professionals and the general public. Many labeled it daring and even revolutionary. First the new slogan. “France is in the air.” In English no less. Who said France was not modern and open to the rest of the world?

Then the posters. The six main visuals in the campaign play like an A-B-C of the much-publicized French way of life (or at least the perception of said way of life around the world.) Even as they pitch Air France’s newest products (the spacious A380, the new First and Business classes, on-board gastronomy, SkyPriority boarding) the playful and witty posters stand out in their own right, irresistible vignettes full of Frenchitude. The message is clear: Fly with Air France and get a small slice of France!

I find them delightful and representative of aesthetics-focused France. The French Revolution, Versailles and the beautiful Le Nôtre gardens, the Sun King and Marie-Antoinette, the Moulin Rouge, gourmet food. Playing off stereotypes? Provocative? Who cares? They grab our attention. We relate. They work. Some favorites of mine include:

Her Majesty, the A380

Her Majesty, the A380 – Copyright Air France, 2014

“The soaring palace. New First Class suite.” Copyright Air France, 2014

“Revolutionary comfort. New Business Class seat.” A French queen or a Revolutionary who has sold out? Copyright Air France, 2014

Exciting destinations. Le Moulin Rouge. Paris as the center of the world. Copyright Air France, 2014

Exciting destinations. Le Moulin Rouge. Paris as the center of the world. Copyright Air France, 2014

Indulge in Haute Cuisine. Refined menus by French chefs. Copyright Air France 2014

Indulge in Haute Cuisine. Refined menus by French chefs. Copyright Air France 2014

The campaign also included 12 visuals illustrating popular Air France destinations. Once again exuberance and irreverence were de rigueur. Some did not like it and the campaign was criticized for over-stereotyping (They pointed out Air France used Caucasian models to represent Asian and African-American women.)

A faux pas? Copyright Air France 2014

A faux pas? Copyright Air France 2014

Copyright Air France 2014

Copyright Air France 2014

This one is a winner:

God save the Queen! Copyright Air France 2014

God save the Queen! Copyright Air France 2014

Further research reveals the French company is not the first (or the only) airline to use national stereotypes to get a sales message across. Some are pretty obvious. Obvious, if you reach the largest number of people, also means effective. Look at this selection of vintage posters. No harm intended and none taken:

Air India's 1963 award winning advertising campaign

Air India’s 1963 award-winning advertising campaign

Copyright Alitalia

Copyright Alitalia

TWA France


It seems Paris and France continue to inspire graphic designers (and travelers.) I would be happy to find any of these vintage posters and hang them in my living room. What about you?

Air France’s timely new campaign reminds us that if morosity and angst inspire writers and journalists, légèreté and joie de vivre are much sexier. And if these colorful posters have not cheered you up yet check out Air France’s website where menus are describes in titillating detail (including those served in coach.) Revolutionary non? Who knew airlines still cared so much about food?

Best-kept secret about airline food: It disappeared with TWA only to be replaced by pretzels, Two-Buck Chuck and gloubi-boulga (mush.) That is my theory, and I am sticking with it.


Bon voyage and safe travels. I am not flying abroad any time soon but until then I can count on Air France to transport me, one entertaining poster at a time.

Véronique - France with Véro
Véronique of France with Véro

Véronique of France with Véro

Vero shares her homeland weekly on social media with virtual tours, photo essays, live events and other publications at France with Vero. Learn more.

Or click a link below to read the next (or previous) post...allons-y !


  1. Nadege on November 2, 2014 at 7:55 am

    I love all of those posters. I have two of Pan American airlines. Traveling to France sounds terrific right now.

    • French Girl in Seattle on November 2, 2014 at 8:03 am

      I am with you, Nadège. One of my prized possessions is a framed vintage Art Deco poster of Nice and the French Riviera. It looks spectacular, and towers over the main room in my new apartment. I smile every time I look at it (which is often.) I have always enjoyed creative advertising, “à la Orangina…” Bonne semaine !

  2. Melissa Bauer on November 2, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Yay that’s me! So excited that I won one of those fabulous books!Looking forward to reading it and of course many more new blog posts.

    • French Girl in Seattle on November 2, 2014 at 9:00 am

      Félicitations Melissa. Your book will be shipped on Monday!

  3. Alain et Jo on November 2, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Bravo ma grande: Ton nouveau blog est super, et je vois qu’il fait l’unanimité; grosses bises à toi et à Junior. Mom

    • French Girl in Seattle on November 2, 2014 at 9:12 pm

      Merci beaucoup Mom. Ravie que le nouveau blog te plaise… et bravo pour le commentaire. Ce site est peut-être plus facile à utiliser que le précédent.

  4. georgeanne on November 2, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    I did not know about the new advertising push this year-I flew air france on my very first trip to france and remember the service well-hot moist towels before landing in the wee hours of the morning-I love advertising posters too– especially vintage ones bravo for you having what sounds like a large one in the main room-this was a very enlightening post and has me dreaming of france as USUAL. Have a wonderful week and must say again LOVE THE NEW LOOK!!

    • French Girl in Seattle on November 2, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      Merci beaucoup my dear g. I was lucky to be able to fly from Seattle to Paris when they opened the non-stop flight a few years ago. I must say it was an excellent experience. Eventually, Air France’s partner Delta Airlines took over, with mixed results. Dommage. This should be a good week, provided we don’t drown. I am afraid Seattle has entered Monsoon season.

  5. Peter on November 2, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    The London one is amusing! Haven’t yet seen these new ads (except here)!

    • French Girl in Seattle on November 2, 2014 at 9:10 pm

      Thank you for stopping by Peter. I wonder if the Queen would approve of the Air France ad? 😉 I hear she has a good sense of humor. I have seen versions of the main 6 visuals in American publications (Travel and Leisure as I recall.) What a fun and creative campaign! Bonne semaine à Paris.

  6. Cherie Moore on November 3, 2014 at 10:28 am

    I like your new blog site, excellent work by you and Daria. Interesting posters by Air France. I really like the first one over Versailles, tres bon! Hope there is a flight in my future, smile.

    • French Girl in Seattle on November 3, 2014 at 6:10 pm

      Merci Cherie, and I hope there is a flight in BOTH our futures! 🙂 Bonne semaine !

  7. Alain on November 4, 2014 at 8:59 am

    En France, “Air France” a plutôt la réputation d’être une compagnie chère et snob, surtout utilisée par des étrangers fortunés. Cette campagne publicitaire risque de conforter cette opinion (sauf pour Londres !). Malgré cela elle reste, pour les français, un élément de fierté, même si bien peu d’entre eux ont les moyens de se payer un aller retour Paris-New-York en 1° classe. (12 000 Euros selon “Le Point”)

    • French Girl in Seattle on November 4, 2014 at 11:16 am

      Merci de ce point de vue intéressant, Alain. La majorité des visuels cultive certainement l’esprit “luxe” et quelque peu élitiste de la compagnie. Il y en avait aussi un (que je n’ai pas utilisé,) pour souligner la nouvelle politique de prix “low cost.” C’est vrai que les Français reste très fier d’Air France, et à juste titre. J’en fais partie et espère un jour pouvoir voler avec la compagnie un peu plus souvent… Malheureusement, elle a déserté Seattle après une tentative de courte durée…

  8. miss b on November 6, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Bonjour Véronique! I can see that you have been rather busy whilst I have been away on holiday and le blog has moved over here! Firstly the new blog looks very attractive and I love the header with the cute dog! I’m now subscribing by email. I thoroughly enjoyed this post! The new posters are fabulous and so creative. I’ve been fortunate to fly on the amazing A380 with Emirates. I would certainly like to experience Air France’s new ‘refined menus’ especially those rather tempting desserts!

    • French Girl in Seattle on November 8, 2014 at 8:30 am

      Bienvenue chez moi, miss b. You are always welcome here! I would love to fly on the A380 one day. That must be quite the adventure. Like you, I would not mind enjoying some of the desserts offered in the Air France menu. Kuddos to them for trying to keep the Magic alive. So many other airlines have given up, it seems…

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