Nadine Geissbühler, designer of the Airbus A340 "flower power" livery
I am a freelance graphic designer with advertising agency experience. The agency that handles SWISS’s advertising needs approached me because they were familiar with my work and knew this assignment would suit me. I was briefed on the project’s special nature and invited to submit an idea that SWISS would approve when the agency made its final presentation. I thought the idea was great but didn’t really think it would come to pass. But everything moved swiftly. All of the points were approved.
There were no major restrictions imposed on my work. At the start, I was just given the go-ahead to “go for it”. There were a few minor issues along the way, such as areas of the fuselage where no foil could be applied, and the fact that the windows had to be kept clear of course. The nose was obviously going to be a challenge because of the wind resistance. This is why the nose was painted instead of having foil attached. For technical reasons, the aircraft belly had to remain plain.
Before I actually started on the design, I thought to myself: “If I get to do this, I’ll quit after this project, pretty well at the zenith of my career.” I started by researching, getting familiar with the fonts of the “Peace and Love” era and by diving into the world of the flowerpower aesthetic. I looked at quite a few Volkswagen vans in the Internet to find out what the graphic styles of the day were like. The graphic artists of that period tended to integrate many details into their images: for example, a vehicle headlight would be made to look like the sun instead of just ignoring it altogether. This led me to the idea with the aircraft nose and the eyes, and the flowers around the windows. In the process, I had to integrate a bit of Switzerland into the image. That’s why a cow is included.
Meanwhile in San Francisco itself, we are doing something completely different. Our first message is to let the local market know that we are a Swiss airline now offering non-stop service to Zurich. Our credentials in this regard play an important role. For this reason we decided to refer to the Skytrax award as Best European Airline, which is important for us because it is a prestigious award backed up with a European seal of quality.
Our message to future American customers is that SWISS is closely tied to Switzerland and reflects the country in many ways. At the same time we’re also promoting such Swiss characteristics as tranquillity, calmness and high quality. We’re telling them that things here function just like a Swiss watch. We are making our presence known throughout the Bay Area through advertising, radio (click right to download), the internet and local print media. For outdoor advertising we have made sure that we are present in the streets that lead to corporate head offices for the likes of Roche, Google and Novartis. We also want to get the attention of Swiss expats who fly to Switzerland on holiday.
The chain of progress behind this communication campaign
It all starts with a rough idea of what we’re looking for. From that point, the focus is on practical aspects. For our poster in the USA, for example, we present the Matterhorn, clouds and our aircraft (see picture above). This image is a composite of three pictures. The photo of the Matterhorn was kindly made available to us by Switzerland Tourism. The clouds were purchased from a photo data base and the photo of the aircraft was one of our own. Putting the pieces together to create the image we wanted took a few days). There are quite a few steps to get through before the poster is printed and put on display in San Francisco. These are the steps involved: 1) develop idea with sketches, 2) the idea meets a positive response 3) photo shoot or image processing (as explained above), 4) the image is processed to make sure the colours are consistent when printed 5) headline and copy texts are created and translated into the required languages 6) work-in-progress is approval by my superiors; in the case of San Francisco the approval of our colleagues in the USA was also necessary 7) distribution to relevant media, printing shops 8) the poster goes on display
In my job I am responsible for all advertising-related communication. In connection with the introduction of the new Zurich - San Francisco service, we needed to keep in mind that we’re actually launching two new destinations at once: San Francisco for our customers in Switzerland and the rest of Europe, and Zurich for people living in San Francisco and the Bay Area. This means we have two different regions to promote to two completely different target groups. Our airline is a familiar entity to Swiss people and American expats working for companies that have their European base in Switzerland, such as Google. But we are relatively unknown to the people of San Francisco, even though they might have some idea about Switzerland. From a communications point of view, we needed to approach this market audience much differently than we do our Swiss target audience.
Whenever SWISS decides to operate a new route, the role of Ground Services becomes clear once we find out how much operational ground time we have. In San Francisco, our flight arrives at 16:30 and does not take off again until 19:25. This gives us nearly three hours to prepare the various services, which is quite ample. As soon as an aircraft touches down, the ground handling team swings into action. The whole scene is similar to what happens when a Formula One racing car makes a pit stop. All of the service providers swarm like ants around the plane, do their specific job and then leave the scene so that the aircraft can take off on time. Having relatively a long ground time at SFO, the handling providers have enough time to prepare the various services in all the necessary detail.
We are a team of three persons with the overall responsibility for organising SWISS ground services worldwide. My area is intercontinental while my two colleagues capture Switzerland and the rest of Europe. A new destination like San Francisco encounters many aspects and starts with negotiating and finalising service agreements with local ground handling agents, who are in turn responsible for passenger services, ramp services, station management and supervision at the airport ensuring a safe operation with a performance based on the SWISS values.
Having been active on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter for some time now, an experience that has been very enjoyable, we have come to realise that we need more space for the publication of detailed reports about life at SWISS. For this reason, we have decided to launch the SWISS Blog as a new channel that will serve as a complementary source of communication to standard media channels such as newsletters and press releases. The SWISS Blog will enable you to gain a greater understanding of how our company works. Content will include regular contributions from employees, who will offer their own personal travel tips and describe the nature of their daily work and the challenges they deal with.
Our debut content is dedicated entirely to San Francisco, the newest destination in our route network. You’ll find reports from members of staff from various units, who describe their role in the launch of service to San Francisco and relate their experiences and the highlights involved. Their stories give you the opportunity to learn how service to a new destination is planned and implemented.
Once the topic of San Francisco has been comprehensively covered the blog will move on to other aspects. On that note, we welcome your input regarding possible topics, wishes or suggestions and invite you to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope you enjoy the blog and look forward to receiving your feedback!
Christian & Parand
SWISS Social Media Team
As Senior Manager Schedule Planning, Peter Dellenbach is part of the team that determines which new routes become part of the SWISS network.
Q: Peter, tell us about your job.
Route development involves determining potential new destinations as far in advance as possible and giving them priority. Once a new route has been chosen, then we move on to schedule planning, which involves finding the ideal departure times. In the case of San Francisco, for example, it would make no sense at all to have the flight depart from Zurich at 22:00. It would be empty.
The relationship between Route Management, the commercial side, and Schedule Planning, the operational side, can be described like this: Route Management knows what Schedule Planning thinks is feasible. In turn, Schedule Planning knows what Route Management is looking for in commercial terms and works together with Sales to achieve this. The bigger picture includes handling agents, technical services and flight crews.