I recently wrote about United’s new ad campaign, which represents a tapestry of instruments from around the world weaving together Rhapsody in Blue. But keen observers have fairly questioned whether United knows the difference between China and Japan.
As you watch the video, notice the man playing the trombone while walking down a bamboo-lined path as text on the screen flashes Chicago and then Shanghai:
China is certainly home to a lot of bamboo. But not this particular bamboo, an iconic path and popular tourist destinations in Kyoto, Japan called Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.
China and Japan have had a strained relationship in the past, making the (likely) confusion particularly unfortunate.
For reasons I cannot explain, United is digging into its insistence that this was filmed in Shanghai. On Twitter, it cited “marketing” as the authoritative source.
Hi Will, we just wanted to let you know that we've followed up with Marketing, and have confirmed that the bamboo forest pictured on our recent ad is indeed in Shanghai. Thanks again for reaching out yesterday. ^EM
— United Airlines (@united) November 5, 2018
But it wasn’t. I’m sorry, it simply wasn’t. While the Bamboo Forests of Anji (outside of Shanghai) look similar, this path looks strikingly familiar to Kyoto.
United reached out to me to clarify the situation:
Just wanted to let you know that the bamboo forest in this shoot is fictional, but was inspired by various bamboo forests in and around Shanghai. It is not meant to represent one specific forest, but be representative of the various bamboo forests travelers will find in Shanghai.
The mystery is solved. It’s just a set…
Offensive? I’m not sure that is the right word. But imagine pointing out the beautiful Taj Mahal…is in Pakistan. Somehow this classic United ad from the 1980’s comes to mind:
But the mystery is now solved. It’s just a set.
> Read More: United Airlines Launches Impressive New Ad Campaign