Normally airline advertisements try to hook with you with Great Deals™ or an awkward rendition of your grandpa’s favorite song. Not Delta’s latest advertisement. This Delta ad reminds us of the miracle of flight, and opens our eyes to our potential.
Titled “Why We Go,” the ad starts out obscure, with the camera staring at blurry dark tarmac. The introduction of a painted white line informs us of movement. The pace of the passing line rapidly increases; we’re going. The voice of Donald Sutherland is telling us what is happening is not normal.
186 miles per hour.
You’re not sure what’s on the other side to that time after you land, but momentum pushes you forward. You are a test pilot, breaking through where others broke. This is why you take off.
Same reason the pioneers before you went in canoes and covered wagons with wild eyes and big-fevered dreams. And it’s why we’re with you. 80,000 people now; on the ground; in the air; engines on.”
The camera rises to show the end of a runway; we have lift off.
The question isn’t where are we going - it’s why are we going.
We’re going because we can. What’s impossible is only so until you make it possible.
What was impossible centuries ago is now possible. Man is in the sky.
What once took months in a boat to accomplish, with the luck of clear weather and easy seas, is now available in air-conditioned, relatively comfortable transport in half of a day.
What once required a complex network of wings, pulleys, and make-shift engineering to lift one man for mere minutes - given good wind - is now streamlined into pressurized cabins, spinning combustion turbines, and complex physics floating a group of hundreds of people for hours at a time.
The mountaineer George Mallory was once asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest. His response was “Because it is there.” The mountain’s existence is a challenge to humanity, as is flight. He reasoned that his accomplishment would be one step in man’s desire to conquer the universe. He failed three times, dying on his third attempt. But he went.
We can choose to stay where we are brought into this world, but that is not the challenge. The challenge is to reach out and touch all corners of the Earth - and go beyond even that. To reach new heights, beyond where anyone has gone before, just to prove we can.
We didn’t need human flight, but we did it. For no other reason than to prove we could. We never imagined the convenience that would come with standardized air travel. That was second to the drive to prove our capability.
That drive is what this Delta advertisement speaks to. So we can fly. Now let’s push that. Let’s go higher, and faster. Let’s go places our ancestors never dared, for no other reason than to prove to ourselves what we are capable of doing. To challenge ourselves and hopefully in the process achieve progress. Meet the challenge, and the benefits will become apparent.
The real magic of the ad is that the Brand™ never interferes with the message. We don’t get slapped with a Delta logo in big font, with some actress-turned-stewardess singing to us about low rates. We get a message. A common message that we are inherently meant to go. Life is not static; you can fight the current or flow with it.
Sutherland finishes with:
There is no stop in us. Or you. Only go.