`Brand will have a fresh, modern look without compromising the icon'

Archana Venkat

ChennaiMay 7Thirty-four is an age when women are badgered by advertisements for makeovers to look and feel young. Many fall for them in the hope of seeing glowing results. Will the same thing happen to the `Singapore girl' the icon used by Singapore Airlines for over 34 years?

Advertising agency TBWA (of the Omicom Group) winning the global creative account of Singapore Airlines has sparked interest in the future face (and phase) of the airline. Not surprising, considering the former ad agency Batey held on to the account for 34 years.

"The Singapore Girl will remain. She is not a creature of advertising," assured Mr Stephen Forshaw, Vice-President (Public Affairs), Singapore Airlines. Up to now, the airline's advertising has mainly featured the Singapore girl, a metaphor for the service levels of its cabin crew. This may change in future.

"The brand will have a fresh and modern look without compromising on the icon," said Mr Forshaw. This could mean a new face for the icon possibly an Indian one. The airline has seen huge interest from Indian air-hostesses to be part of its cabin crew. It has just hired about 1,000 people to operate on the A380 aircraft that will be delivered later this year. Of this, a few hundred are Indians (including Singaporeans of Indian origin). "Indian crew is deployed in flights to the US and Canada. We are seeing increased numbers of Indian passengers wanting to fly to these destinations and having an Indian crew helps," said Mr Forshaw.

To maintain the essence of an Asian carrier, the airline plans to hire cabin crew mainly from India, Sri Lanka, Japan, China and Singapore in future. "No Caucasians," says Mr Forshaw. It is also encouraging former air-hostesses to come back to work through a "working mothers" programme and currently has 400 such employees who have donned the uniform a second time.

Will TBWA portray these developments in its ads? One will have to wait for the makeover to find out.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 8, 2007)
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