Brussels Airlines, the newly rebranded carrier created through the merger of SN Brussels Airlines and Virgin Express, has continued buying media in the same arresting style as its predecessor, commissioning a controversial evolution-theory television commercial that has had some viewers cringing.

The new airline officially launched yesterday in Brussels when press and political invitees were treated to the 90sec short in which an SN Brussels Airbus A319-100 appears to mate with a Virgin Express Boeing 737-300 in mid air. The result is a new baby aircraft, hosed down as it appears from the belly of the 737 in a scene reminiscent of a marine mammal giving birth. The clip in Apple QuickTime format should appear below or follow this link to download from Brussels Airlines site.

SN Brussels had built a reputation for highly stylised advertisments, artistically far superior to the corporate look favoured by other European network carriers. After experimenting with award-winning situational photography (pictured below), SN Brussels appointed Belgian creative agency L G & F to mount a series of guerrilla campaigns in the country's cities.

SN Brussels carousel

These efforts included "wake-up calls" to nominated friends to promote advanced purchase bookings, and an unattended baggage awareness programme that saw agency staff placing prosthetic hands into the backpacks or purses or unattended luggage. Another internet hit was the Passion Film campaign, which allows you to integrate a personal text message into a movie ad and thus, to twist its plot.

At the launch the airline also gave some hints towards future strategy, saying it will focus on adding African and North American destinations to its long-haul network, and is looking to add a fourth Airbus A330 to its fleet.

Outgoing chief executive Neil Burrows - who will be replaced at the helm of Brussels Airlines by Philippe Vander Putten on 1 January - said the airline's North American ambitions "remain alive", and the African market will be a key focus for development. To fulfil these ambitions, the carrier is looking to lease a fourth A330.

In the short-haul market, Brussels Airlines will make changes to its product offering by eliminating the business and economy class concept and replacing it with two different classes, which the carrier has named 'B-Flex' and 'B-Light'.

While there will be no difference in seating arrangements between the two products, passengers who opt for 'B-Flex' will pay more to receive additional benefits such as priority boarding and complimentary on-board meals, but fares will be half the price of typical business class fares, says Burrows.

He adds that the carrier anticipates 35% of its passengers will use 'B-Flex', with the remaining 65% opting for the low-fares 'B-Light' product. Routes to Moscow, Tel Aviv and Helsinki will retain the traditional business and economy class.