Nobody of a certain age can visit Bedfordshire’s premier airport without thinking of this advert and star Lorraine Chase.
Chase starred in a number of ads for Campari, but the one everyone remembers features the glamorous Cockney actress in a foreign villa, being chatted up by a poetic toff.
“Were you truly wafted here from Paradise?” he asks. “No. Luton Airport” is her now legendary reply.
It was the sort of memorable London-centric oneliner that Del Boy would have come up with in Only Fools and Horses a few years later. It virtually doubled sales of Campari overnight.
The line caught on so much that a female band called Cats UK gratuitously used it in a novelty song called Luton Airport, which reached #22 on the British charts in 1979.
Campari wanted to change its image in 1977 and attract a new group of female consumers. Lorraine Chase’s character – full of no-nonsense working-class glam – was exactly the right image. The idea was first used in a Campari advertisement set in Venice, which featured the actress saying, “It’s nice ‘ere, innit?”. Then came ‘Luton Airpot’, filmed not in Luton but in Hollywood.
Chase admits that the advert changed her life, leading to many stage and screen opportunities.
Ironically, the success of the Lorraine Chase ads gave Campari problems in the years ahead, and sales reportedly dropped from 2.5 million bottles a year in the seventies to 420,000 in the nineties. The ads had made people believe that Campari was a ‘sweet drink aimed at women’. In an attempt to prove otherwise, the company brought in Jimmy Pursey from Sham 69 to front a new campaign.