A New Book Captures the Heyday of Airline Advertising

  • A work by artist Victor Asseriants.

    A work by artist Victor Asseriants.

  • A work by artist Jean Colin.

    A work by artist Jean Colin.

  • An ad from the British Overseas Air Corporation, which operated for 34 years until 1974, when it was merged into what became British Airways.

    An ad from the British Overseas Air Corporation, which operated for 34 years until 1974, when it was merged into what became British Airways.

  • Often, campaign imagery focused on the exoticism of destinations and aircraft livery.

    Often, campaign imagery focused on the exoticism of destinations and aircraft livery.

  • In addition to portraying the feel of the era, the book shows the transformation of advertising over the course of three decades.

    In addition to portraying the feel of the era, the book shows the transformation of advertising over the course of three decades.

  • Ivan Chermayeff's photographic ads for Pam Am are now housed in the permanent collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art.

    Ivan Chermayeff's photographic ads for Pam Am are now housed in the permanent collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art.

  • Behind the ad campaigns and logos of major airlines were some of the most seminal artists, photographers, graphic designers, and advertising minds of the mid-20th century.

    Behind the ad campaigns and logos of major airlines were some of the most seminal artists, photographers, graphic designers, and advertising minds of the mid-20th century.

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In the golden age of air travel, when passengers dressed to the nines and planes were sleek vessels of modernity, it was all about looking the part. As Matthias C. Hühne explores in Airline Visual Identity: 1945–1975 (Callisto), this was largely a product of the glamorous images created by the airline industry and the booming success of its collective advertising. At 436 pages, this hefty coffee-table book is the most encyclopedic work of its kind yet, using everything from archived boarding cards to case studies to analyze the branding of the top 13 commercial airlines of the period. Most visually stunning, of course, is the art: the iconic campaign graphics and posters impeccably reprinted using 17 colors, five varnishes, foil, and embossing, making the book no less glittering than the era it captures. —Gabrielle Lipton

This article originally appeared in the June/July print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“In Plane Sight”)

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