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September 26, 2009

SEPTEMBER 27 - Remember when we used to “Fly the friendly skies?”

Several airline advertising slogans have become memes in our culture even though the airlines that used them no longer exist. For example...

“It’s the only way to fly!” – The famed ad slogan used by Western Airlines, starting in 1956, which became a familiar saying.

“If you've got it, flaunt it” - The ad slogan used by Braniff Airways, starting in late 1968 or early 1969. It was apparently inspired by the famous line said by Zero Mostel in Mel Brooks’ great 1968 comedy movie, The Producers: “That's it baby, when you got it, flaunt it! Flaunt It!”

“I'm [Name]. Fly me.” (e.g., “I’m Cheryl. Fly me.”) - The suggestive ad slogan used by National Airlines in the 1970s.

Another famous airline ad slogan that’s still quoted is “Fly the friendly skies of United.”

According to the U.S. Trademark Database, “Fly the friendly skies of United” it was first used in commerce by United Airlines on September 27, 1965.

It was created by legendary American ad man Leo Burnett, who also created such cultural icons as the Jolly Green Giant, the Marlboro Man, Charlie the Tuna and Tony the Tiger.

In the vintage United Airlines TV ads and print ads that used the slogan, it looked like it would be a pleasure to fly in those comfy seats, being taken care of by those happy, friendly ladies-who-were-still-called-stewardesses-not-flight-attendants.

“Fly the friendly skies” was the airline industry’s longest running marketing message. It was finally retired in 1997.

United replaced it with the unmemorable one-word ad slogan “Rising” (which didn’t make it into the quotation books).

Unlike the airlines that had the other famous ad taglines I mentioned, United is still flying. In fact, despite various rocky financial periods it’s one the biggest surviving airlines.

However, given the high-security, delay-ridden, pay-for-all-extras, cattle-car experience of air travel today, United’s “Fly the friendly skies” slogan is now generally cited in jest or derision.

Here are some of the other famous quotes and phrases linked to SEPTEMBER 27:

“It ain’t over till it’s over.” – One of the famous “Yogiisms” by baseball player and manager Yogi Berra (b. 1925), commenting on the 1973 National League pennant race when the New York Mets lost 8-5 to Montreal on September 27, 1973.

“The Silent Spring.” - Title of the groundbreaking book that became an environmental rallying cry, written by American biologist Rachel Carson (1907-1964) and released on September 27, 1962.

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