Responses by Esther te Pas, managing director, DDB Unlimited, Amsterdam
Background: The purpose was to raise awareness of KLM’s 100-year anniversary with a 90-second film that looks back at some of its remarkable history, while showing progress throughout the last ten decades. Underlining the evolution of aviation, and also that of society as a whole. Since KLM’s first commercial flight right up until today, the company has set its sight on progress.
Reasoning: With help from MassiveMusic, we wanted to show and reflect on the heritage of KLM but also to look forward to its future. KLM is an airline that cares for people. We wanted to visualize caring in multiple ways: caring in how KLM looks after and serves its passengers, and also caring in its focus on progress and a better future for society. We also thought carefully about the tone and the manner in which we ended on the female pilot. It was important to show this one of the natural results of progress and not overemphasize it.
Challenges: Getting all the historical details right. The film tracks KLM’s evolution from 1919 to the present day, and features classic airplanes such as the Fokker F.II in 1934, the Douglas DC-4 in 1949, Boeing 747 in 1975 and ending with the brand new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner. Our director had lots of talks with KLM’s Historical Center to get every single detail right and the art department worked with the historians to rebuild the aircraft interiors and the office where the woman has her job interview.
Favorite details: Shooting the scenes from the ’50s took the most effort, not only in terms of the airplane interior, but also the outfits of the passengers and flight attendants. But the result is incredibly precise and historically accurate, so we were really proud.
Visual influences: All the historical details together with the visual direction of our director Ismael ten Heuvel—he’s one of the Netherlands’s best directors when it comes to emotional storytelling. He went into full historical details on the set building and on the lighting to make it the best and most authentic it could be.
Time constraints: We started working on the strategy in January and then in February, the final script was approved. At the end of June, we started the shoot. That’s when KLM’s new Boeing Dreamliner was delivered and we wanted to shoot the final cockpit shots in it. So all in all it’s been a lengthy production process, spanning from January until October.
Anything new: As an agency, we were able to learn even more about KLM’s rich heritage, as we spent so much time working with archive material and the historical stories. We also had a chance to discover even more about just how pioneering KLM is as an airline.