Air France: frogs are in the air and the revolution’s coming

Flying Air France will make you happy if you're a frog. But watch out for the guillotine in business class.
Sep 202014

While reading the newspaper at breakfast yesterday I saw this Air France ad, featuring a woman in a frog costume hopping in the air, with a tagline reading “HAPPY LEGS!”

Air France "Happy Legs" ad

I thought the ad was cute and catchy in its retro simplicity, but mostly I loved that they seem to be playing on frog as a derogatory term for a French person and/or the stereotype that the French eat frog legs all day.*

At lunch I opened The Economist and found another Air France ad:

Air France "Revolutionary Comfort" ad

This one shows a woman in a princess gown sprawled out in a reclining airline seat fitted with carrying poles like a sedan chair, plopped down on a gravel path at a palace garden. The visuals evoke the opulence and elegance of Marie Antoinette, but the tagline is “REVOLUTIONARY COMFORT.”

Talk about a mixed metaphor! If I remember my French history correctly the revolution wasn’t very comfortable and didn’t end well for the people riding around in sedan chairs and wearing fancy gowns. I immediately imagined a guillotine waiting to receive the princess. Something like this, in fact:

Air France "Revolutionary Comfort" ad with guillotine
From Air France. Guillotine picture by Christian Ries / Wikimedia Commons

The ads are from Air France’s new “France is in the Air” campaign (read and see more here, if you’re curious and don’t have Google). Thank god they’re no longer using their “Gross Giant Toes are in the Air” ad from 2000:

Air France ad showing close-up of a foot, with a plan flying the background

France may be in the air, but (speaking of national stereotypes) Air France isn’t right now: the pilots are on strike, staging their own little revolution.


The British started calling the French “frogs” in the 17th or 18th century. According to The Word Detective this was based on “French consumption of frogs’ legs (anathema to the beef-loving British), as well as the presence of frogs on the coat of arms of the city of Paris.” Long before that, though, the Brits were using frog as a general term of abuse for anyone they didn’t like, including Jesuits and the Dutch (who were also called “froglanders”).
The guillotine shown here is the official guillotine of Luxembourg, used for executions up until 1821. You can find great information about the history of guillotines at Bois de Justice, and if you can wait 5 years you can have him build you a really nice guillotine replica.

  One Response to “Air France: frogs are in the air and the revolution’s coming”

  1. Hi Bill,
    I loved your witty remarks on Air France’s ads. Funny thing is that we are going to France next week and wanted to fly Air France, but were told they did NOT have flat bed seats. I have a lot of trouble with my back and need to have a flat seat. I wonder where they are using those fabulous new seats.
    Thanks for a good laugh. Julie

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