Airlines love to tell you all sorts of reasons to travel more, but they usually don’t mention the likelihood that you’ll get unexpectedly pregnant, injured, inked, married or plagued by a cursed keepsake.
China Airlines, on the other hand, proudly pitches these and more scenarios in its dark and cheeky new spot, “What Travel Brings You,” from agency Leo Burnett Taiwan.
The ad breaks just about every rule of travel marketing, bypassing bright, sunny and scenic locales in favor of a humorously bleak look at the life you return to after a vacation. While not all the scenarios are slathered in regret, they certainly all show that an international trip can have…unexpected consequences.
“You never know what travel will bring into your life,” notes the closing copy. “Let’s go find out.”
Indeed, let’s. Here’s a look at the spot:
For those (like me) who didn’t quite catch the context of the “brought from Seoul” scene, the joke seems to be that South Korea is a destination known for easy access to plastic surgery, and the woman no longer looks like her ID. Meanwhile, some Chinese viewers commented online that they didn’t understand the marriage certificate joke, a reference to Las Vegas’ reputation as a place for spur-of-the-moment and often questionable weddings.
The Chinese-language version of the spot has been viewed 6 million times on YouTube since going live last month. Comments on the post are overwhelmingly positive, with several viewers noting that it’s one of the first ads they remember taking the time to watch several times.
(This sort of counterintuitive travel marketing just might be a trend. Dutch airline KLM recently encouraged viewers of a recent ad to rethink whether air travel is always necessary, given how jet emissions contribute to climate change.)
China Airlines is proud of the ad’s success but doesn’t exactly describe its creative concept with the same tone of dark humor you’ll find in the spot. “Every journey may bring something new into your life,” the brand notes in a statement about the ad, “be it new knowledge, new experiences, or even a whole new life.”
“A whole new life” is certainly one way to refer to a surprise pregnancy left over from a trip to Australia’s Gold Coast, but you can’t blame a brand for trying to keep things sounding positive.
The spot follows another entertainingly grim ad from the airline, 2018’s “The Trip You Have Promised,” in which we see aspiring travelers confronting the guilt of trips they promised to take with family, friends or coworkers—only to let them slip out of mind until something suddenly reminds them.