DUBAI: The Middle East’s largest airlines have played their trump card, turning the recent US electronics ban into viral marketing ploys that fly in the face of adversity.
On Tuesday, the US government stated that passengers on nonstop, US-bound flights from a handful of Middle Eastern and North African countries would have to pack any electronic devices other than cellphones in their checked baggage, leaving many tablet and laptop users at a loss.
Airlines flying directly to the US from 10 airports in eight countries have been affected by the ban, including Emirates and Royal Jordanian Airlines.
Although all airlines complied with the measures, they soon took to social media to respond in spectacular fashion, poking fun at the ban in a flurry of funny adverts.
Within hours of the ban coming into effect, Dubai-based Emirates released a cheeky clip on its social media platforms.
“Who needs laptops and tablets anyway?” the advert reads, before cutting to a shot of Hollywood star Jennifer Anniston playing video games on the in-flight entertainment system.
The clip of Anniston is not new, having aired in an earlier campaign in October 2016, but the repackaged commercial is.
The advert goes on to hype the airline’s 2,500-plus channels of entertainment and ends with an image of an Emirates plane flying high, with the caption “let us entertain you.”
Let us entertain you. pic.twitter.com/FKqayqUdQ7
— Emirates airline (@emirates) March 21, 2017
Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways chose to take a direct jokey jab at US President Donald Trump himself, with an advert captioned “Make Flying Great Again,” a reference to Trump’s campaign tagline “Make America Great Again.”
The airline pushes its various services, such as an in-flight “nanny” to take care of children and 3,000 channels of entertainment.
Not one to be left out, Saudi Arabian Airlines — also known as Saudia — tweeted out an image inviting prospective passengers to “take a break with 1,500 hours of entertainment.” The airline also encouraged flyers to bring their own USB, which they can plug in to watch personal entertainment.
Forget about your laptop & take a break with 1500 hours of entertainment or bring your USB and watch own entertainment, simply Plug and Play pic.twitter.com/3aE1P9ezqr
— SAUDIA | السعودية (@Saudi_Airlines) March 24, 2017
Morocco’s Royal Air Maroc played on the British government’s iconic World War II advice to “keep calm and carry on” and urged passengers to sit back, relax and enjoy a movie.
— Royal Air Maroc (@RAM_Maroc) March 24, 2017
The advert also asks: “Who really needs laptops and tablets?”
Despite the advertising field day, no airline made a more pointed set of remarks than Royal Jordanian Airlines, the flag carrier of Jordan.
Joke-by-joke, Royal Jordanian released via its social media platforms a slew of adverts and posts that make light of the ban.
The company kicked it all off with a satirical poem.
“Every week a new ban, travel to the US since you can, we are now poets because of you son, no one can ruin our in-flight fun, we have good tips for everyone,” the poem read.
It then took things up a notch with a 12-point plan for what to do on a 12-hour flight with no laptop or tablet.
The amusing advice includes such words of wisdom as “appreciate the miracle of flight” or “say hello to the person next to you.”
Not your cup of tea? Well, the airline also suggests you “spend an hour deciding what to watch,” or “engage in primitive dialogue from the pre-Internet era” to pass the time.
— Royal Jordanian (@RoyalJordanian) March 23, 2017
Never one to quietly accept a ban, this is not Royal Jordanian’s first comedic response to US travel measures.
On Jan. 27, President Trump issued an order restricting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries in a ban that was soon overturned by the US court system.
Proving that comedy is all about timing, Royal Jordanian stepped into the furor and tweeted an image in which the word “ban” had been scribbled out and amended to read “Bon Voyage.”
— Royal Jordanian (@RoyalJordanian) February 5, 2017
“Fly to the US with RJ now that you’re allowed to,” the slickly-timed Feb. 5 advert read.