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10 Beautiful Swissair Ads From the Golden Age of Aviation

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I’m currently writing this on an airplane, squished up next to the window and horribly uncomfortable as the flight attendant bothers with run-of-the-mill soft drinks and tiny bags of snacks a starving man wouldn’t go out of his way to consume.

How did flying go from something so luxurious, exciting and stunning to this?

Mid-century, the jet setting crowd dominated the air and the advertising matched their tastes and interests. It wasn’t about saving a few bucks, it was about emotion, and the advertising mad men capitalized on those emotions in the most beautiful ways possible.

Swissair was behind some of the best from that era, showcasing global travel in minimalist elegance, cultivating serious wanderlust and jumpstarting the boom of consumer aviation.

Here are some of the best from their deep and impressive archive, which are highlighted in Matthias C. Hühne’s coffee table book “Airline Visual Identity 1945 – 1975,” a worthy add to any living room coffee table.

A Look Inside

Early Swiss graphic design practically taught a master class in simplicity, with designs that would feel just as at home in a trendy modern magazine today.

Image courtesy of Callisto Publishers.
Image courtesy of Callisto Publishers.

They were also never short on good copy.

Image courtesy of Callisto Publishers.
Image courtesy of Callisto Publishers.

And always believed less was more.

Image courtesy of Callisto Publishers.
Image courtesy of Callisto Publishers.

Photographer and designer Manfred Binger was behind many of the carrier’s most iconic ads, including this one that perfectly captures the quiet wonder of the window seat.

Image courtesy of Callisto Publishers.
Image courtesy of Callisto Publishers.

Here, in this 1964 marketing image, Binger captures the “Gotham” like quality of North America’s metropolises.

Image courtesy of Callisto Publishers.
Image courtesy of Callisto Publishers.

Two years later, in 1966, another Binger image was released to critical acclaim, this time showcasing South America with a photo that’s more a piece of abstract art than anything else.

Image courtesy of Callisto Publishers.
Image courtesy of Callisto Publishers.

In 1971, Swissair launched a beautiful campaign highlighting Georg Gerster’s award winning aerial photography.

Image courtesy of Callisto Publishers.
Image courtesy of Callisto Publishers.

Gerster traveled all over the world, including the deserts of North Africa, pioneering the art of aerial photography. Here, he shows off palm tree groves in the middle of the Sahara.

Image courtesy of Callisto Publishers.
Image courtesy of Callisto Publishers.

The campaign was so successful, they ran it for four years, all the way until 1975. One of the most beautiful Gerster ads showcases the Amazon in Brazil from above.

Image courtesy of Callisto Publishers.
Image courtesy of Callisto Publishers.

Though they highlighted dozens of travel locations throughout the campaign, the California ad was certainly the most interesting. Instead of opting for a picturesque beach photo when selling California travel, Swissair opted to show off the geometric beauty of its agriculture from the sky. In a world well before Google Earth, this unique perspective must have been intoxicating.

Image courtesy of Callisto Publishers.
Image courtesy of Callisto Publishers.

Which of these vintage Swissair posters is your favorite?

Featured image courtesy of Callisto Publishers.

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