Jennifer Aniston’s Emirates airline advert has gone viral, gathering more than 800,000 official views on YouTube in the first 24 hours.
The ad, which was released at midday on Tuesday, pokes fun at rival airlines by featuring the 46-year-old actress waking up from a bad dream involving flying on a plane without a shower or lounge.
Clad in a white bathrobe, clutching a loofah and toiletries bag, Aniston conjures up the character she played for 10 years on the American sitcom Friends, Rachel Green. Later, after waking up in a Private Suite in the Emirates First Class cabin, she is glamorous and composed, recounting her "nightmare" to a sympathetic barman.
The ad, which was directed by Bryan Buckley, known in the industry for his Super Bowl ads, and developed by RKCR/Y&R London, received mostly thumbs up on YouTube – with some fans clearly happy to see Aniston in action.
“Great ad, Jennifer Aniston being her goofy, charming self again, love it,” wrote Jan Wagensveld. “Now if we could only afford that first class ticket.”
Another user, jenf777 wrote: "That was great - I love an airline with a sense of humor! Hey, even makes a wicked nervous flier like me want to fly Emirates!"
Keith J Fernandex joked about the long-running Friends love story involving Aniston's co-star David Schwimmer: "Does she reunite with Ross in the sequel?"
Muhammad Nazir Khaki wrote: “Nice. But I’m not so sure about having nightmares on an Emirates flight. I would think pleasant dreams perhaps.”
Not everyone liked the ad, however.
“I want my one minute back,” wrote Muhammad Adha Muhajier.
Moyra Elliott took issue with a lack of diversity in its small cast, arguing an Arab flight attendant would have been more appropriate.
“This would give better flavour of Emirates. Aniston doesn’t do it for me. She’s in far too many ads for all sorts. Miss Ubiquity. Rather again see (if we must have a celebrity) someone hip.”
Others doubted Aniston would ever take a regular flight – "Right, as if Jennifer Aniston takes commercial planes like the rest of us in that @emirates advert," wrote #BlurBoiAHDHotel@blurboi – and moaned about having to travel in economy class.
"How come when I fly @emirates it's still like Jen's nightmare? #economy #coach #noshower," wrote Cook it Pretty.
Mark Byron wrote: “Yeah, only Jennifer Aniston and other rich elites can afford Premium First Class tickets with the shower - the rest sit in cattle class, although A-380 economy is better than most.”
“If that’s ‘flying as it should be’, make all the first class cabins economy cabins and let everyone fly as it should be,” wrote Kaz P.
“Just have to wait for my lottery numbers to come up to experience it!!!” wrote hardy1572
Others, including Laura@buynowbloglater, were more forgiving: "Even though I normally travel in pleb class with neither a shower or bar I still love you Jennifer #emirates," wrote.
Tityana Naghwai tweeted: "Well done #emirates ! Love it! Would also love to see something about more leg room in economy, r u up to that?"
The ad was launched amid an increasingly testy spat between the big three US airlines – American, Delta and United – and the big three of the Middle East: Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. The Americans allege that the Gulf carriers are subsidised by their governments, which the Gulf airlines vehemently deny.
In the advert, when Aniston asks non-Emirates flight crew for help finding the shower, they laugh at her – and offer only peanuts and hot towels.
Numerous tweets accused Emirates of taking a swipe at their US competitors.
“Looks like the gloves are off,” wrote lancaster786.
“American Airlines!! 0 UAE Airlines 1 looooooool that brilliant,” wrote Dragon Arab.
“Ha Ha @Emirates is using Jennifer Aniston to hit the #American airlines below the belt. Ouch!” remarked Yasir Shahid.
“Get prepared for the backlash from the US carriers,” noted Mohammed Al Mamum.
Steves@Airwaysfoodie wasn’t so impressed with Emirates’ marketing tactics. “Am I the only one who thinks the #JenniferAniston ad is a rather stupid and childish shot at competitors?”
Others thought the advert took more of a dig at the airline’s British counterparts: “#britishairways mocked by #Friends starlet in #Emirates ad,” wrote in-spyrer in New South Wales.
In August the New York Post reported that Aniston was paid US$5 million (Dh18 million) for the campaign, which will be rolled out on TV and online. Boutros Boutros, the airline's divisional SVP for corporate communications, would not reveal details of the contract.