A History Of British Airways Advertising – Part 2

A look at British Airways’ advertising over the past 50 years, as BA introduces its first long-haul business class cabin and trains its staff in “Putting People First”.

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British Airways, "The World's Favourite Airline", 1983.
British Airways, “The World’s Favourite Airline”, 1983.

Welcome to our second part of our look at some of the most influential and noteworthy BA advertising of the past 50 years.

To the 1980s with BA’s first long-haul business class cabin, revamped visual identity and its “Putting People First” training programme.

“Super Club”

Which airline was responsible for the introduction of long-haul business class depends on who you ask.

Both Qantas and British Caledonian Airways claim credit. In the late 1970s, BA introduced its own “Club” cabin on Boeing 747 aircraft for full fare economy passengers. This was effectively a curtained-off section of economy.

This would soon evolve into “Super Club”, the airline’s first dedicated business class cabin, introduced on transatlantic routes in 1981.

These were expanding seats in a 2-2-2 configuration with a folding table in the middle of each seat pair. BA claimed this was the widest airline seat in existence with 24 inches between arm rests.

British Airways Super Club Advert (USA)
British Airways Super Club Advert (USA)

The “Super Club” seat was extended to all long-haul routes worldwide, as illustrated by the 1984 advert below where the aircraft had to be opened up to fit the seat in it.

This was one of Saatchi & Saatchi’s earliest TV adverts for BA and you can see the cinematic influence. This was also one of, if not the, first uses of “The Flower Duet” by Léo Delibes from the opera Lakmé. This has been the effective theme of BA.

“Putting People First”

“Putting People First” was a training programme designed by Danish Firm Time Manager International for over 20,000 front-line BA employees.

The aim was to motivate staff “to enjoy giving good customer service to the airline’s customers, dealing with stress and difficulties, and how to make the most effective contact with people”.

It also had the aim of “enabling different groups of employees to appreciate and understand their interdependence upon one another for a congenial ‘people orientated environment’ which in turn forms the basis for focusing the airline’s attention on the customer and meeting his or her needs.”

It is widely credited with helping turn around BA’s image in the 1980s.

BA launched a TV advertising campaign “Supercare” in 1985 to highlight the effectiveness of the training programme, featuring staff performing feats to assist customers outside of the airport and aircraft.

This has become a common device in airline advertising, used many years later by BA and other airlines.

The above adverts also featured BA’s new “Landor” visual identity designed by Landor Associates in California.

“The Sun Never Sets On British Airways”

This print campaign from late 1985 was the start of BA promoting with overt self-confidence not only its global reach, but also its on board service.

"The sun never sets on British Airways" 1985 Advertising Campaign
“The sun never sets on British Airways” 1985 Advertising Campaign

From fifteen cities in the United States, we fly to 133 destinations in 71 countries on six continents. Service like this, plus the service you get on board, has made us the choice of most world travellers. We fly more people to more places than any other airline.

It was primarily aimed at attracting premium passengers, but also sought to encourage economy passengers by emphasising how benefits available to premium passengers are available to all.

“The British Concorde attitude. You’ll find it at every altitude.” “On our 747s or other aircraft.  In the air or on the ground.”

"Whatever your cup of tea, we'll fly you to it" 1985 Advertising Campaign
“Whatever your cup of tea, we’ll fly you to it” 1985 Advertising Campaign

We fly to 148 cities in 71 countries on six continents. And while preferences in tea may change from destination to destination, the preference in airlines seems to be universal.

It’s certain that travellers prefer British Airways , because we fly more people to more places than any other airline.

"The British Concorde attitude. You'll find it at every altitude" 1985 Advertising Campaign
“The British Concorde attitude. You’ll find it at every altitude” 1985 Advertising Campaign

Courtesy good manners and a genuine concern for your comfort are what you expect to experience on the British Concorde.

These form an attitude that distinguishes British Airways people wherever in the world you meet them. On our 747s or other aircraft. In the air or on the ground.

Getting on well with travellers is something we learned by flying more people to more places than any other airline.

"The world's favourite Concorde" 1985 Advertising Campaign
“The world’s favourite Concorde” 1985 Advertising Campaign

The British Concorde is the ultimate flying experience. At supersonic speeds, it offers the courtesy, good manners and genuine concern for your comfort that are the uniquely British heritage of a far more leisurely age.

We think of this as the British Concorde attitude and it’s another reason why we fly more people to more places than any other airline.

In Part 3: BA enters is “imperial phase” of the late 1980s with a successful privatisation and a period of overt self-confidence. The airline introduces its Club World long-haul business class brand and reflects “Wall Street” culture. Read more here.

2 thoughts on “A History Of British Airways Advertising – Part 2”

  1. Thank you for sampling some of the ad’s from my YouTube channel “Noluckboston13”. I never know why some are so much more popular than others. So its nice to find them posted on sites like this so others can see them.

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