A History Of British Airways Advertising – Part 9

A look at British Airways’ advertising over the past 50 years as BA seeks to recover from the financial crisis, delves into the past to relaunch its brand identity and tells passengers not to fly.

London Air Travel » British Airways » British Airways Advertising & Branding » A History Of British Airways Advertising – Part 9

British Airways "Taxi" Advertisement, 2012
British Airways “Taxi” Advertisement, 2012 (Image Credit: Bartle Bogle Hegarty for British Airways)

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

We turn towards the end of the first decade of the century. BA seeks to recover from the global financial crisis, delves into the past to relaunch its brand identity and tells passengers not to fly.

Opportunities

The collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 had a huge impact on BA.

The airline’s financial lifeblood, long-haul premium traffic, fell away sharply.

BA swung from a profit of £922m in 2008 to a loss of £401m in 2009. There were even questions as to whether the airline would survive in its current form.

Here is a very softly spoken advertising campaign BA ran 12 months after the collapse of Lehman Brothers. 

It featured 9 films in total gently encouraging both business and leisure passengers to fly and pursue new opportunities around the world such as Mumbai Fashion week and the migration of wildebeest across the Serengeti.

The campaign was noteworthy in that apart from a reference to BA’s route network at the end of the voiceover, it does not make any specific reference to any relative benefits of flying BA, nor does it feature any visuals of BA aircraft or cabins.

Aviators

In September 2011, BA relaunched its brand by reintroducing the slogan “To Fly. To Serve.” which had been a long part of BA’s heritage. 

This advert “aviators” focuses the role of BA and its predecessor airlines in aviation history right from the very first flight on 25 August 1919. It is notable for its focus on the “hardware” of aviation rather than the softer aspects you usually see in advertising.

Kitesurfer

This was an online advert featuring Boeing 747 Captain Claire Bunton demonstrating her passion for being in the air kitesurfing on the coast of East Preston, West Sussex.

“Don’t Fly”

What do you when you are the official airline of Team GB and Paralympics GB, the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games are taking place in your home city, where to its residents your whole raison d’être (in the good times at least) is to fly them elsewhere?

Well, tell your passengers not to fly. That’s what BA did ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

In a series of print adverts and a TV advertising campaign, BA simply told people not to fly, stay at home, and support the home team.

"Don't Fly. Support Team GB"
“Don’t Fly. Support Team GB” (Image Credit: Bartle Bogle Hegarty for British Airways)
"Don't Fly. Support Team GB"
“Don’t Fly. Support Team GB” (Image Credit: Bartle Bogle Hegarty for British Airways)
"Don't Fly. Support Team GB"
“Don’t Fly. Support Team GB” (Image Credit: Bartle Bogle Hegarty for British Airways)
"Don't Fly. Support Team GB"
“Don’t Fly. Support Team GB” (Image Credit: Bartle Bogle Hegarty for British Airways)

In the TV advert a British Airways Boeing 777 aircraft is being prepared for take-off at Heathrow.  Instead of taxing to the runway, it makes its way to the Olympic Park in Stratford, passing a number of London landmarks (Trafalgar Square, The Palace of Westminster, The Shard) on the way.

The advert features many touches that show attention to detail, such as the seat belt sign being activated as the aircraft passes a speed bump on the road.

The clever move behind this campaign is that it is easy for people to be cynical about brands supporting major events and appearing to simplify piggyback on the achievements of others. This avoids that. Though of course by the time the campaign was run those who had already decided to leave London during the games had already made plans.

The Happy Lemon, Happy Jumper & Relaxed Trainer

These were three spots from 2012 highlighting the specific benefits of short-haul flying, namely complimentary drinks, a checked luggage allowance, and free seat selection 24 hours before departure. 

Just one of these is now offered.

One thought on “A History Of British Airways Advertising – Part 9”

We welcome any thoughts and comments below: