Earlier this month, I wrote this post about the cool part of the Turkish Airlines Super Bowl 2020 ad – the fact that they picked 3 Americans who did not even have passports yet to explore some of the destinations that Turkish Airlines serves.
Interview with Mariha Falconer from the Turkish Airlines Super Bowl 2020 Ad
Well, today, we have an interview and a behind-the-scenes look with one of those 3 travelers, Mariha Falconer. She was gracious enough to answer the questions to help give readers a look at what went into that Turkish Airlines ad, where she went, and what the experience was like.
Also, you will read below in more detail, but Turkish not only compensated her for her time on this trip, they also flew her in business class for the whole trip, took are of whatever she wanted, and gave her 2 free tickets to wherever Turkish flies! Oh, and the ad was seen by tens of millions of people. 🙂
What was the selection process like by Turkish Airlines for their Super Bowl ad? How were you picked?
[Mariha] The casting call was posted to LACasting. My half sister told me submitted my info and that an agency may be contacting me. I believed at first this was some scam – haha – as it was posted all expenses paid 2 weeks abroad with flat rate compensation after completion. Too good to be true I thought, right?!
The call was for a female 25-35 (which that day I had turned 35, btw). They wanted someone who had never traveled outside the US, was not an actress/actor and was adventurous. The process of the selection was an email from the Miami agency with the recruiters emailing me requesting I submitted a video answering a series of questions about myself, where I would love to travel to, etc.
After the, there were more questions and a Skype interview. They asked things like who I was, where I lived, how I lived, if I could travel where would go and why haven’t I been able to travel .There were 3 trips with different locations. Each of us selected were chosen for one of the trips. I did not know my location or when I was even going up until the week prior to having to go!
What was your background and your feeling about going on an adventure like this?
It was a crazy unreal feeling! Since I was with a fairly new employer and had no vacation, I would need to take off 2.5 weeks for this opportunity that I thought may be unsafe – but I had to take it or I would never know! Surely, I could not miss out on something so big as this!
I live in a small town, paycheck-to-paycheck, mother to 3 daughters, and leaving for more than a weekend away just has never really been in our budget. Plus, with working full-time (and sometimes a side job), the time just isn’t available. My employer was so gracious to grant me leave to take this opportunity which they do not normally do. My children were able to stay with their father and it all just fell into place from there. It was definitely meant to be!
On the video, it showed you in business class – was the whole trip in business class or a mix of coach and business?
Business class on Turkish is amazing! The entire trip was in business class! We did a lot of plane hopping once in Turkey traveling from city to city . I had never really even traveled by plane at all besides one trip to San Diego 10 years ago from Oregon. So you can imagine how big this all was for me!
How did the trip measure up to your expectations – we had read that this was the first time you had gone outside of the US so what had you expected?
I had no idea what to expect whatever! This experience was amazing, nerve racking, and exhausting, fun and very personal. You do not get any free time or time alone when participating in the film industry! I had no idea! I am also very camera shy so I was exposed at all times and this really forced me to come out of my shy shell and just be okay with a crew of nearly 70 at times surrounded me and a camera in my face most of the time and told to follow instructions.
Everyplace we stayed was a 5 star hotel, all meals drinks, and room service were all paid for. I even got to charge my laundry to be washed at each hotel we transferred to. When we were on the sets, whatever we wanted – no matter how remote, even in the jungle – they would find a way to get what we wanted! Espresso, please? Chicken salad? Lol – seriously, aside from the exhaustion from 3 different time zones and some 14 hour work days (and not sleeping well!), I felt like royalty!
What was your favorite location you visited?
Definitely Yogyakarta, Indonesia! The village vibe, the beach with bath-like water temperature, the people that were so friendly and happy, the lush lands of grasses, and palm trees. Banana trees, coconuts, dragon fruit – all accessible and more!
I am sure that with a trip like this, there will be so many things that stick in your mind – what were some of the most memorable moments of the trip?
There is so much to take on a trip like this. The Hindu temples in Indonesia really amazed me. I am very much into Hindu vibes and culture and way of life. Climbing into caves that go back centuries, walking thorough the jungle in humid over the top heat.
I loved all of it and at some points dreaded it. Some moments, we would spend hours to get one ideal shot. There is much repetition and redo’s in this industry its not all glamour like some – and myself – would have imagined. But what a life changing opportunity!
Was there any location you want to visit again for more time to explore?
I most definitely want to go back to Jakarta and explore. I didn’t not get to really adventure off on my own. Also, I want to go to the market in Istanbul. The city is massive and so populated and so busy all hours of the day and night. Its like no one sleeps!
What did your itinerary look like?
Busy! We arrive to our destination, then have drivers located us and take us to hotels, stay maybe 2 nights then load back up travel to another airport, to another hotel, shoot for a few days, then again pack up travel to airport or by driver van or private car to another city and location to new hotel and more shooting.
The first week I was in Turkey, I could not adjust to the time change and was sleeping 2.5 hrs a night! Then taking on a project like this really took its tole but it was also so exiting and new that going through the days with no to little sleep became the normal and my adrenalin kept me going.
What were your thoughts of Turkish Airlines as an airline and how they treated you?
Again I haven’t had much flight experience before this opportunity but to me Turkish Airlines was top notch! The best of the best. The attendants, so friendly and accommodating. Anything you wanted or needed was received anytime during the flights. There was no need to even take a carry on since they provided nearly everything that may be need during the flight to feel comfortable .
Do you have an idea yet of where you will travel with your free ticket? 🙂
HA! With my gifted flight for 2, we have booked a trip to Thailand! I am in love with elephants and the whole wildlife village life vibe I have also dreamt of Thailand. I will go at the end of the year!
Last thoughts about the whole experience?
My outlook on life has always been live for moments and to do my best in not mentally getting caught up in the life of clock-in/clock-out/go-home – do it all again. I more than ever now, after this adventure, am making a point to get myself in a position where I can be free later in life to life simple and small and make my own money to be able to travel and explore without the rush to get back home without the need to have things that cost us more than we can handle or even need.
When my children are taking their college courses and beginning their adult lives, I plan to backpack, to take as many trips as I can manage and to own my small modest comfortable home to come back to when times call for rest and work.
As I said in the original post a few weeks ago, I love that Turkish Airlines had picked ordinary Americans for this Super Bowl ad instead of movie stars. Just going through the interview with Mariha, I could tell how amazing of an experience it was for her to have – especially never having left the US before!
Not only was this commercial a great way for Turkish Airlines to showcase their destinations, it was also a way to influence some people’s lives in very big ways. Congrats again to Mariha and the other travelers who had this amazing chance! Here’s hoping Turkish does the same next time!