Why This Airline Made a 2-Hour Ad Where Nothing Really Happens

Eleven crafts 'The Longest Goodbye' for JSX

You know what would make a great airline commercial? A young couple saying goodbye for two solid hours before one of them leaves on a flight. 

Doesn't that sound appealing? If so, check out Eleven's new 120-minute film for JSX. Formerly known as JetSuiteX, the independent charter company serves several western states, including California. It lets customers arrive just 20 minutes before departure at private terminals, so they can skip lines and avoid delays at crowded airports. 

JSX claims it can save travelers two hours compared to conventional airlines. So why not use that precious time to share a tender farewell with the one you love, like the two kooky kids in the clip below?

Did you watch the whole video, or was the boyfriend's man-bun a deal-breaker early on? (Also, JSX planes don't actually land on the sidewalk in front of your house. Yet.) 

"JSX calls it 'waitlessness'—flying without the lines and time-suck that we've all become so sadly accustomed to," Eleven creative director and associate partner Ted Bluey tells Muse. "We wanted to demonstrate and exaggerate this point," he says, "showing people versus telling them what it feels like to get those two precious hours back." 

Eleven has logged serious flight time before, having created Virgin America's cheeky-creepy, mega-long pre-roll ad in 2014. For JSX, however, the agency followed a different strategy. "While similar in form factor, the five-and-a-half-hour-long Virgin piece recreated the dullness of flying anything but Virgin," Bluey says. "The two-hour JSX piece is a campaign extension that was designed to show what [having extra time before a flight] actually feels like."

Since you're wondering, MullenLowe's intentionally interminable U.S. Cellular outing from 2016 almost certainly ranks as the longest pre-roll ever. That one was about as much fun as watching grass grow, which is what takes place for most of the spot's seven-hour running time. If there's a longer pre-roll out there, we don't wanna know. 

For "The Longest Goodbye," the finale was shot first, at an airport, and then "we had our couple reset and continued rolling the camera for two hours—one take," Bluey says. "The talent was briefed on the idea in advance, and given stimuli to act and react to, but we asked them to just be themselves, ultimately relying on their ability to improvise." 

From time to time, production team members and clients entered the scene, interacting with the leads. (JSX CEO Alex Wilcox rides by on a scooter!) "We didn't script these moments because we wanted genuine reactions from the talent," Bluey says. 

"The Longest Goodbye" lives on JSX's YouTube channel and also runs as a pre-roll on the platform. This week, it will begin appearing on the carrier's Instagram and Facebook feeds. The spot follows a trend of notably quirky airline ads that include JetBlue's alternate history of flight starring the Alright Brothers; Singapore Airlines' flight song created by recording the sounds of a plane; and brilliantly counterintuitive ads from China Airlines about some bad-but-still-good aspects of travel.

Astute viewers might notice that "The Longest Goodbye" features about a minute of opening footage with characters and situations other than the boyfriend and girlfriend bidding adieu. Those 60 seconds came from this stand-alone ad launched by the carrier last month:

For folks with even shorter attention spans, here are some :15 edits:

We could post the :07s, too, but who's got time for that?

CREDITS

Client: JetSuiteX
CEO: Alex Wilcox
VP, Marketing: Angela Vargo
Brand and Strategic Partnerships: Ariana Diaz
Digital Marketing Managers: Jeff LeBlanc, John Munn

Agency: Eleven, San Francisco
CCO: Mike McKay
CD: Ted Bluey
Copywriter: Clemence Pluche
Art Director: Mike Butler
Designers: Adriana del Mar, Iriko Gunabe
Executive Broadcast Producer: Jenn Suttlemyre
Executive Integrated Producer: Pauline Luke
Digital Producer: Julie Notaro
Art Producer: Analisa Payne
Print Producer: Mary Pestell, Tamara Grozik
Associate Integrated Producer: Allie Emmerich
Editor: Kevork Demirjian
Head of Strategy: Ryan Ku
Associate Director of Strategy: Susan Park
Brand Strategist: Caitlin O'Malley
Group Business Director: Marisa Buss
Head of Media and Activation: Gary Stein
Media Director: Lisa Welborn
Media Supervisor: Katie Rosenberg, Keturah Alsworth

Photography:
Photographer: Genevieve Caron
Representative: Tim Mitchell Represents
Producer: John Babor, JB5 Productions

Production Company: Supply & Demand
Director: Anton Visser
Director of Photography: Daniel Bronks
Founder/Executive Producer: Tim Case
Executive Producer/Managing Director: Jeff Scruton
Sr. Head of Production: Nathan de la Rionda
Producer: Lisa Ruffler
Service Company: PAKT Media

Editorial: Cut+Run SF
Editor: Ben McCambridge
Assistant Editor: Max Holste
Producer: Caylee Banz
Executive Producer: Deanne Mehling

Finishing
Colorist: Dave Hussey, Co3, Los Angeles
VFX Supervisor/Lead VFX Compositor: Dennis Wilkins, code-collective
Flame Artist: Brendan Crockett, Jogger SF
Producer: Caylee Banz, Jogger SF
Executive Producer: Deanne Mehling, Jogger SF
Audio Engineers: Phil Lantz, Mark Pitchford: MSquared Productions

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.