BA parts company with Bartle Bogle Hegarty

As BA parts company with its ad agency, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, we take a look back at its most memorable ads of the past twelve years.

London Air Travel » British Airways » British Airways Advertising & Branding

BBH British Airways 2012 Olympics Print Campaign
BBH British Airways 2012 Olympics Print Campaign

BA is parting company with its advertising agency of 12 years, Bartle Bogle Hegarty (“BBH”).

BBH has produced what is understood to be its last work for the airline, a new safety video which also seeks to raise funds for its charity partner, Comic Relief.

The advertising and media group WPP (led by Sir Martin Sorrell) has secured the BA advertising account as well as work for other business units of BA’s parent company, International Airlines Group.

BBH won the advertising account for BA in late 2005, prizing it away from Charles and Maurice Saatchi whose relationship with BA dated back to the 1980s.  The Saatchi brothers have been credited with transforming BA’s image from “Bloody Awful” to “The World’s Favourite Airline”.

At the time, such was the prestige attached to the BA advertising account, the move generated huge headlines.  M&C Saatchi responded by taking out a double page advertisement in The Times stating is was “Now taking new airline bookings”.   In 2007, it also remade “The Face” for the now defunct rival airline Silverjet.

It is fair to say it took a while for BBH to get into its stride.  Much of this was due to BA itself. The airline encountered significant operational issues at its Heathrow hub, most notably the chaotic opening of Terminal 5 in 2008. Then followed the financial crisis which depressed BA’s traffic numbers and triggered industrial relations tensions as BA sought to restructure its business.

To 2017, this year has been something of an “annus horribilis” for BA. It has received a torrent of negative publicity for service cutbacks, notably the introduction of “Buy On Board” food and drink on short-haul flights. Furthermore, issues that had dogged the airline in the past, such as industrial relations tensions and operational issues at Heathrow, have returned to the fore.  Frequent flyers have also become weary at service cut backs and a lack of innovation on board.

WPP will need to reinvograte the brand for the benefit of not only customers, but also its staff and opinion formers.  However, as history has shown for BA, an agency can only produce its best work when its client has confidence in itself from putting its best foot forward.

Here’s our run through of BBH’s notable work for BA:

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British Airways “World Images” Tailfins: 20 Years On

In 1997 BA launched its “World Images” Tailfins. It was regarded as a marketing disaster at the time. Should history be kinder?

London Air Travel » British Airways » British Airways Advertising & Branding

British Airways Boeing 747
British Airways Boeing 747

It was 20 years ago this week British Airways launched what is commonly thought as one of the greatest marketing disasters of all time.

As part of a company wide rebranding exercise, the company replaced its long standing “Landor” aircraft livery with approximately 50 different tailfins featuring designs representing the many nations served by BA, such as tartan for Scotland and calligraphy for China.

The exercise was carried out with the best of intentions. At the time BA was the self-styled “World’s Favourite Airline”. This was because it carried more international airlines than any other airline. 60% of its passengers originated from outside the UK. The plan was to present BA to the world as a modern, warm and caring airline.

This seemed fitting with the times. Tony Blair had secured a landside victory for New Labour in a General Election and there was a confidence in the UK’s contemporary culture, exemplified by the rise of Britpop.

Whilst the designs we well received by BA’s international passengers, they were not so well receive back in the UK. The label “ethnic tailfins” stuck. The former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously took exception to the sight of a model BA aircraft at the 1997 Conservative Party conference and covered its tailfin with a handkerchief. “Maggie Puts BA Into A Tailspin” was the front page of the Daily Mail the following day. This was the death knell for the rebranding exercise. Virgin Atlantic, which at the time always seized the opportunity to joke at BA’s expense, painted the Union Jack and the decal “Britain’s Flag Carrier” on its aircraft. Continue reading “British Airways “World Images” Tailfins: 20 Years On”

“Go Further To Get Closer” What airlines are fundamentally about

London Air Travel » British Airways » British Airways Advertising & Branding

Some time ago we took a look at British Airways’ most memorable advertisements, spanning no less than four decades.

Whilst much has changed in that time, a common theme was that the most effective airline marketing focuses not on the hardware and mechanics of aviation, but what airlines are fundamentally about: bringing people together.

Last year, British Airways released a special “A Ticket To Visit Mum” video featuring a surprise reunion between a mother and son in Mumbai. And it has today, on Valentines Day, released a further video “Go Further To Get Closer”.

We would defy even the most weary hard-nosed traveller to be moved by these videos!

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BA launches its advertising campaign “To Fly. To Serve. Today. Tomorrow.”

London Air Travel » British Airways » British Airways Advertising & Branding

British Airways Crest. "To Fly. To Serve."
British Airways Crest. “To Fly. To Serve.” (Image Credit: British Airways)

Last weekend, British Airways launched its first major UK TV advertising campaign in over a year with a return to the theme of “To Fly. To Serve.”

The advertisement, created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, follows a single customer journey from the airport to on board a Boeing 787 aircraft. The advertisement, which is certainly very slick, uses a “micro to macro” style of filming, featuring close up shots of the details of flying, panning to wide shots of the aircraft in motion.

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A look at British Airways’ most memorable TV advertisements

Our archive collection and commentary of British Airways’ most memorable TV advertisements over the past 40 years.

London Air Travel » British Airways » British Airways Advertising & Branding

"The Face" British Airways
“The Face” British Airways

British Airways has a long history of producing some of the most memorable TV advertisements with the aid of its advertising agencies (formerly Saatchi & Saatchi/M&C Saatchi and more recently BBH).

As well as simply being enjoyable to watch, the ads provide a commentary on both the changes in the air travel industry over the past three decades and changing social attitudes.

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