A History Of British Airways Advertising – Part 5

A look at British Airways’ advertising over the past 50 years as BA predicts a post-apocalypse future.

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British Airways Club World Cradle Seat
British Airways Club World Cradle Seat

Welcome to the fifth part of our series on the most influential and noteworthy BA advertising of the past 50 years.

To the mid-1990s where BA uncannily predicts a post-apocalypse future. The airline gives away free Concorde seats to Lapland and upgrades its Club Europe and Club World cabins.

“Where Is Everybody?”

We start with an advert from 1994 with scenes of the streets of London that would have been unthinkable more 25 years ago, but ultimately proved to be prescient.

Airlines normally advertise promotional offers with enticing images of the destinations on offer. 

This advert doesn’t do that. Instead, the viewer is presented with a post-apocalyptic vision.

A man wakes up to find an empty home, no TV or radio services, no rail services operating and empty streets as the entire city of London is deserted.  

On first view, it is only at the end of the advert does the viewer have any clue as to what it is for (if you watch it back you’ll hear the sound of an aircraft taking off at around 11 seconds in).

To present the viewer with such an uncertain vision was a brave way of conveying a promotion that could otherwise have been presented in a very ordinary and unremarkable way. 

“Do You Believe In Concorde?”

In addition to regular scheduled flights to Barbados and New York, BA used to operate Concorde charter flights to scores of destinations around the world.

At Christmas, Concorde used to operate special flights to Rovaniemi, Lapland. In a Christmas promotion, BA gave away 1,000 seats on Concorde flights to Lapland.

In a TV advert that says just enough, but not too much to spoil Christmas for many young children and their parents. When told by her father that he has won tickets to Lapland on Concorde a child replies “I don’t believe in Concorde”.

Club Europe Space Seats

BA’s current short-haul business class brand, Club Europe, was first introduced in 1988.

The cabin underwent a relaunch in 1994 as BA introduced wider convertible seats.

Club World

Here are two campaigns for BA’s Club World cabin, and two new seats, just three years apart.

This was from a time when the airline believed in regular cabin upgrades, if only to avoid familiarity breeding contempt amongst passengers.

After Club World was first introduced in 1988, another new cabin interior and seat was introduced in the early 1990s with seat-back TV for the first time.

British Airways Club World Advert 1993
British Airways Club World Advert 1993

Here’s an advert mixing aircraft and non-aircraft imagery, to the sound of “Up On The Roof” by The Drifters.

In 1996, BA introduced the Club World “cradle” seat. The concept behind this seat was that rather than simply reclining, the seat would tilt and, with the aid of “ears” in the headrest and a built in leg-rest, it would support the entire body whatever the position of the seat.

BA did draw controversy with a print marketing campaign to support the new seat. One advert depicted a mother holding a baby, but with the face of an older businessman superimposed over the baby’s face. The text of the advert read “The new Club World cradle seat. Lullaby not included.” Many female passengers wrote to the airline to complain it was demeaning to cabin crew.

British Airways Club World Cradle Seat Advert 1996
British Airways Club World Cradle Seat Advert 1996

In Part 6: BA unveils a radical, and now notorious, revamp of its corporate identity, gives its British passengers a gentile ticking off, and prepares for the turn of the century with the first fully flat beds in business class. Read more here.

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