KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the oldest commercial carrier still flying under its original name, celebrates its 100th birthday today with a film by DDB Unlimited that charts how far the company—and society—have progressed since 1919.
In the spot below, the story begins that year with a classic KLM Fokker F.II. winging through the skies. Cut to 1934, as a young girl breathlessly watches one of the carrier's planes zipping overhead. As the years pass, she becomes a flight attendant, as does her daughter. Her granddaughter, however, has a different destination in mind.
Yep, she's a KLM pilot. In fact, she captains a Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner, the carrier's newest, most technologically advanced plane.
"We believe in bringing people together and caring for our passengers," says KLM evp of customer experience, Boet Kreiken. "On top of this, we also stand for continuous progress. Progress in aviation, obviously, but also progress in a wider sense. Also, we've never forgotten the magic of flying. A magic that has been passed on through generations of customers, fans and employees."
Though the film's big reveal is predictable by the halfway point, planes make great vehicles for this nostalgic exercise in time travel. (It's just a shame that on the social front, we still have a long way to go.)
The period ambiance—achieved through fashions, hairstyles, flight uniforms, cars—really sells it. So do the planes, which, in addition to the two models previously mentioned, include a Douglas DC-4 from 1949 and Boeing 747 from the mid-1970.
"We are telling a universal story which ends with a twist, hinting at how society has evolved in the last hundred years," says DDB Unlimited managing director Esther te Pas. "We were able to recreate the past in such fantastic and realistic detail by treating this like a period feature film. Our team worked with the director Ismael ten Heuvel and the historians at KLM to research everything fully to ensure that every detail is spot on."
In a nod toward the next 100 years, KLM just formed a partnership with Microsoft to develop a plan for cutting carbon emissions across the aviation industry. That move follows an environmentally minded initiative in which the carrier encouraged people to fly less often.
Credits KLM '100 years of progress'
Client: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
Agency: DDB Unlimited
Production: Pink Rabbit
Director: Ismael ten Heuvel
Post production: Storm Post Production
Music: MassiveMusic, Joep Beving