In 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait.
By 1991 it escalated into what became known as The First Gulf War.
Kuwait couldn’t be allowed to just fall into the hands of a military dictator.
Everyone was outraged.
Kuwait would have to be invaded.
Iraq would have to be thrown out.
So the USA put together a coalition of countries to provide troops, money, and weapons.
The coalition consisted of 34 countries:
Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Portugal, Qatar, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Spain, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, the UK, and the U.S.A.
Pretty much everyone.
The country that was noticeable by its absence was Switzerland.
On the one hand they couldn’t condone what Saddam had done.
But on the other hand Switzerland was traditionally neutral.
For 500 years, and through two world wars, they stayed out of fights.
They just didn’t get involved.
Everyone knew it, and they were famous for it.
Whatever your quarrel was, and whoever it was with, it didn’t involve Switzerland.
That’s what everyone knew in 1991.
Which was when the coalition was getting ready to invade Kuwait.
And what everyone also knew was that Arab terrorists wouldn’t be too pleased about this.
In fact they’d probably try to retaliate any way they could.
They had pretty limited means.
They couldn’t compete with all those countries’ armed forces.
But they could hurt their civilians.
With the one weapon the terrorists had that no one else had.
And the thing that was most vulnerable was civilian airliners.
So suddenly travel on those civilian airlines didn’t seem like such a good idea.
And all those countries pulled their advertising off TV.
But there was one airline that wasn’t a potential terrorist target.
The country that wasn’t part of the coalition.
The country that was historically neutral.
Their airline could still advertise.
And, coincidentally, lots and lots of prime airline advertising space had just freed up.
So night after night, in the centre break of News At Ten, you’d see Swissair ads.
Right in the middle of all the news about the Gulf War.
Right in the middle of all those reminders of why you shouldn’t fly on any of the coalition airlines.
There’d be an advert for Swissair.
Reminding you, without needing to say it, that Swissair was still safe.
They didn’t have a fight with anyone.
And that is really smart advertising.
Using the context to do your advertising for you.