One of the scariest things about air travel is the seating assignment. You never know who you’ll end up next to. This classic 1968 advertising campaign from Braniff International Airways lets you imagine what it would be like to find yourself elbow-to-elbow with Andy Warhol and Salvador Dalí.
In the commercial above, Warhol tries to explain the inherent beauty of Cambell’s Soup cans to heavyweight boxer Sonny Liston. Below, Dalí and major league baseball pitcher Whitey Ford compare notes on the knuckleball versus the screwball. The commercials were part of Braniff’s ambitious “End of the Plain Plane” rebranding campaign, which completely revamped the company’s stodgy image. Advertising executive Mary Wells Lawrence hired architect and textile designer Alexander Girard to redesign everything from airplane fuselages to ash trays. Italian fashion designer Emilio Pucci created flamboyant uniforms for the stewardesses, or “Braniff girls.” And in 1968 Lawrence brought in art director George Lois to oversee the “When You Got It, Flaunt It!” advertising campaign for print and television.
Lois later said he came up with the slogan before the celebrities were cast. In addition to the Warhol/Liston and Dalí/Ford pairings, the campaign included ads with another odd couple: pulp writer Mickey Spillane and poet Marianne Moore. In an interview with the New York Daily News earlier this year, Lois remembered that Warhol had trouble with his lines. “Andy had to say, ‘When you got it, flaunt it.’ But I ended up having to dub his voice. Later, after I sent him a copy of all the commercials, he told me that he said the line better than anybody.” The ads were a product of Lois’s gut-instinct approach to advertising. “Those ads,” he said in another interview, “would have totally bombed in ad tests. As things turned out, it tripled their business.”