Is Henry Kissinger your dream date?

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
LONG-HAUL businessmen's flights have their pleasures. Unless you're David Frost, or affect enormous sophistication, a transatlantic night- flight in First or Club with a British airline (not the rather shag- pile American carriers) is better than the average drinks party. There's a certain sense of occasion: both BA and Virgin get a nicer type of passenger. So you do drink the champagne, you do watch a bit of the idiotic films, you do eat the perfectly nice dinner and you do talk to your neighbours.

You don't really expect to meet profoundly famous or exotic people (though the general mix is that much smarter, better accessorised) - but you might. Who, apart from Michelle Pfeiffer, might business travellers want to sit next to? Who, to be far more specific, might the Economist's readers dream of sitting next to? According to the periodical's new commercial, Henry Kissinger is their ideal date. To sit next to Henry Kissinger on a long flight (and oh, time's arrow has waited a lifetime to take the Economist reader to this exquisite moment), to talk geopolitics with Henry, to compare notes on the Little Tiger economies, to share informed speculation on how long the Dow Jones will hold up is very heaven.

So we have a set-up that looks initially like an airline ad. A middle- aged, middle-heavyweight British businessman in a blue-shirt-yellow- tie-and-braces combo has his pre-take-off champagne delivered. He's in seat 2A, and his inner dialogue, recorded by John Fortune - Bird and Fortune must be the target group's favourite comedians - asks, "I wonder who'll be sitting in 2B?" Then on he comes, sliding into 2B, saying, "Good evening" in that spooky Dr Strangelove way. "Hey, it's Henry Kissinger," says the voice. "Ready for a good chat?" And Mr Guildford Golf Club slides down in his seat in a most abject way, followed by the Economist's red livery. It's like "No FT, no comment", of course, but the casting is utterly right for its targets' private fantasies.