Singapore Girl in Blue


Here’s a little insight into my thought processes; What shall I post? –> My last post was “Feeling blue” –> Okay, I’m still not quite out of the blues. –> Need to project a more positive attitude. –> Blue doesn’t have to be bad or sad. –> What is blue and positive? –> Blue accentuated photography (like in previous post) can be beautiful. –> What photo series is both blue and beautiful? Something I like. –> Singapore Girl.

“Singapore Girl — You’re a great way to fly”. This advertisement campaign started in 1972 at the very inception of Singapore International Airlines or SIA. It has been one of the most successful branding exercises in Asia and after 35 years, one of the longest running advertising campaigns. Wonderfully taken and quality photographs of beautiful girls in kebaya with warm, welcoming smiles against fantastic and sometimes fantastical backgrounds were a regular theme and blue was a prominent colour. It won many fans, who like me, collected their postcards and calenders just to admire the photography. “Singapore Girl” would come to mean more than that though and become an icon of both an airline and a country.

The Singapore Girl
The personalization of the Singapore Airlines brand is the mixed male and female cabin crew, where especially the flight stewardesses commonly referred to as Singapore Girls have become very well-known. SIA engaged French haute-couture designer Pierre Balmain at the inauguration of the airline in 1972. He designed a special version of the Malay sarong kebaya as the uniform which later became one of the most recognized signatures of the airline. A very designated and visual part of the entire brand experience.

The Singapore Girl strategy turned out to be a very powerful idea and has become a successful brand icon with an almost mythical status and aura around her. The Singapore Girl encapsulates Asian values and hospitality, and could be described as caring, warm, gentle, elegant and serene. It is a brilliant personification of SIA’s commitment to service and quality excellence. The icon has become so strong that Madame Tussaud’s Museum in London started to display the Singapore Girl in 1994 as the first commercial figure ever.

Singapore Airlines also runs one of the most comprehensive and rigorous training programs for cabin and flight crew in the industry to make sure the SIA brand experience is fully and consistently delivered.

The social status of the Singapore Girl has also reached near-celebrity in Asia. This has allowed Singapore Airlines to be highly selective in the recruiting process for talent which has added further to the strength of the brand icon and the myth around it. “

(Extracted from allaboutbranding.com)

Last month, SIA announced that it was possibly bringing to an end their 35 year relationship with Batey Ads and invited other ad agencies to submit proposals and make bids for the future. This sparked speculation that the “Singapore Girl” may fade into history.

Critics say that “Singapore Girl” has gone on too long, that it is sexist and dated. The image projected of the “sub-servient Asian woman stereotype” is offensive according to several women’s groups.

Supporters, of which there are many, counter by saying that it is actually a celebration of womanhood and represents qualities of warmth and hospitality. They also note the success of the campaign and urge SIA “not to fix what ain’t broke”. When news of the possible change of ad agency was announced, more than 3000 emails from around the world was sent within two days in support of continuing the “Singapore Girl”.


What would be your advice to Singapore Airlines?

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