Flight Center roasted over Tom Walley sign but company has clever reasoning

Social media users have mocked a Flight Center sign speculating something went wrong, but it turns out there is a clever reason for the strange image.

Flight Center has been ruthlessly mocked over a sign featuring a pilot with a huge head fixed to a regular body.

The travel agency’s quirky advert features senior employee Tom Walley wearing a pilot’s uniform – but his head appears totally out of proportion with his body.

Despite the promotional image being around for about a year, it emerged as a talking point on Reddit this week.

Amused social media users shared all kinds of theories as to why the image looks the way it does, from a graphic design mistake to stickers being stuck on top of existing signage.

Dozens of people joked the image reminded them of Family Guy cartoon character Glenn Quagmire.

“It’s on purpose. Now it’s on social media being spread around for free,” one wrote.

“Completely intentional. FREE advertising by people sharing it on social media. Clever.”

Others speculated that the reasoning was more complex,” agreed another.

“The contract expired with the guy whose head was used previously. They didn’t renew the contract and instead stuck a sticker of the GMs head on instead,” one person claimed.

Another Reddit user claimed to work for the company when the signs were rolled out in stores.

“About a year ago they changed ‘The Captain’ to one of the higher ups in the company ‘Walley’,” they said.

“I figure it’s easier to have it be a bonus paid to him rather than continuing to pay an actor to fill the role. To that point, it would certainly be easier to put a sticker on the stand rather than re-make the stands for every store.”

The travel agency put the rumor to bed on Tuesday, revealing the clever reason behind the intentional “bobblehead” image.

A Flight Center spokesman explained employees also called the image “bobblehead Tom”.

“A big-headed captain means he has more airfare and deals knowledge than anyone else,” the spokesman joked, adding it was fun and cost-effective.

“Covid gave us an opportunity to freshen the brand in unique ways while we had no money to spend.”

Early last year, long-serving senior leader Mr Walley was chosen to be the Flight Center brand’s “main captain”, to feature in promotional material alongside a crew of co-captains, which are also real-life employees.

The brand’s tagline was also changed from “Best in the air, and everywhere”, to the new “Experience our experience”.

In February this year, Flight Center Travel Group announced Mr Walley had been promoted to global managing director of its specialist division Corporate Traveler, after being general manager of the division in Australia.

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