Friday, May 29th, 2020

American Airlines and Jon Hamm’s Baggage


One’s first thought after seeing a new airline ad probably shouldn’t be the image of one of the airline’s jets crashing into a marshland shortly after takeoff. But after watching American Airlines’ new spot that’s exactly where this viewer’s head was. For that, you can thank American’s choice Jon Hamm, star of “Mad Men,” to do the voice-over work for its “Change is in the Air” commercial, ushering in the company’s first rebranding in 45 years.

It’s not that Mr. Hamm’s voice isn’t perfect for commercial work. As we’ve seen for Mercedes-Benz, it is. It’s just that there’s certain baggage, at least for “Mad Men” fans — and we’re not talking about your Tumi luggage set.

American Airlines is central to the second season of the hit AMC drama, entering during the second episode, when Sterling Cooper staffers gather around a radio for news bulletins on the crash of Flight 1. A real-life tragedy, Flight 1 was a Los Angeles-bound 707 that plunged into Jamaica Bay a minute after takeoff at what we now know as John F. Kennedy International. The date was March 1, 1962. The entire crew and all 87 passengers perished, among them an international fly-fishing champion, an admiral, a Broadway actor, and the mother of Linda Eastman, future wife to Paul McCartney.

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