More than three decades after “Airplane!” came out, the directors and some of the stars have reunited to make ads urging you to go to Wisconsin. (Sure, makes sense so far, let’s keep right on going.)
The new ad campaign from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism mixes references to the original movie with an ode to Wisconsin. The spots star Robert Hays, who played Ted Striker in the original movie (cue drinking problem clip), and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who played Roger Murdock (but, you know, actually played Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; anyway, here’s a clip). They were directed by Jerry Zucker, David Zucker and Jim Abrahams, the same trio of Wisconsin natives behind the wonderful and rightly sainted 1980 movie.
You can watch the first of the ads here:
This first spot, which came out this week, is aimed at summer tourism and will be followed by ads focused on the fall and winter seasons, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism said. (It’s not all “Airplane!” references, either: Kareem drops in a reference to how he spent six seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks before ditching them for the Los Angeles Lakers in 1975.)
“The jewel of my career and one of the high points of my life was being able to work with these folks … so when we had a chance to recreate a little insanity, in the original cockpit, that was really fun,” Hays said in a news conference this week.
Hays actually starred in another ad that doubled as a mini-“Airplane!” reunion last year. He and David Zucker teamed up for this commercial, which involves a fish slapping Hays in the face.
But the new spots go full “Airplane!” even resurrecting the automatic pilot (wearing a cheese hat, naturally). This mix of nostalgia and marketing follows in the footsteps of other recent ads that resurrected characters from beloved comedies like “Seinfeld” or “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” playing on our affection for the original works while promoting something else entirely.
Also, here’s one more great “Airplane!” clip.