A History Of British Airways Advertising – Part 10

A look at British Airways’ advertising over the past 50 years as BA turns to story-telling on social media and marks its centenary year.

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"To Fly. To Serve. Today. Tomorrow."
“To Fly. To Serve. Today. Tomorrow.” (Bartle Bogle Hegarty for British Airways)

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

In our final part, we’re well into the era of social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

These platforms have are a double-edged sword for airlines. They enable airlines to reach a mass audience without buying expensive advertising space, but they have to be shared with the public at large. Airlines are at the mercy of instantaneous and reactive judgements by audiences.

“Today, Tomorrow”

This advert from 2013 was an extension of BA’s brand relaunch “To Fly. To Serve.” but with a much more contemporary feel.  

The advert debuted ahead of the launch of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A380 at London Heathrow.  It features a passenger travelling through Terminal 5 to board a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.  

The advert 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.

The film is directed by Martin Krejci, with cinematography from Anthony Dod Mantle and features the soundtrack “Experience” (Starkey Remix), by Ludovico Einaudi.

“The Magic Of Flying”

“Look Up” was a campaign developed by the interactive agency OgilvyOne in 2013.

Interactive billboards in Chiswick and Piccadilly Circus would respond as a BA aircraft flew over it. OgilvyOne had installed antennae on nearby buildings which could identify overflying aircraft. Using custom-made software it would identify which of those aircraft were operated by BA.

A child would then point to the aircraft in the sky and the billboard would display its actual flight number and origin, highlighting the breadth of destinations served by BA. 

As well as generating a significant number of visits to the BA website and impressions on social media, the campaign won multiple industry awards.

“Red Bus”

The marketing of airlines to overseas visitors can often descend into cliched stereotypes.

Here’s a short film that looks at the start like it’s about to do that, but doesn’t.

Rooftop Cinema Club

Not strictly an advert, but a highly effective trailer shown before screenings at the Rooftop Cinema Club.

India Films

YouTube does allow for longer form films. However, as it relies on users liking and sharing films, there has to be a strong story-telling and emotional angle to trigger a response.

India is one of BA’s most important long-haul markets, and BA has regularly used short films to promote itself in India.

These include “A Ticket To Visit Mum” (2013), “Go Further To Get Closer” (2014), “The Welcome Of Home” (2014) and “Wings To A Dream” (2015) and “Fuelled By Love” (2016).

“Made By Britain”

“British Airways – Made By Britain” was described by the airline as “a love letter to Britain” for its centenary year in 2019. 

It features a number of figures from the arts, science and sport including Dame Jane Morris Goodall DBE; Helen Patricia Sharman, CMG, OBE, HonFRSC; Ellie Simmonds OBE; Chris Robshaw; Gary Oldman; Anthony Joshua OBE; Grayson Perry CBE RA; Riz Ahmed; Olivia Colman and Paloma Faith.

The advert was of course launched during a febrile political climate in the UK. Whilst many events during BA’s centenary year were well received, the date itself was overshadowed by a pilot strike.

What’s Next?

When the time is right expect a huge effort on the part of airlines to encourage passengers to fly again.

Timing and tone of voice will be important. It relies on passengers being able to fly with no border restrictions and without fear of them imposed again.

Passengers will need to feel that concerns about travelling through the airport and on aircraft are addressed. The in-flight experience needs to be one passengers are comfortable with.

An ill-timed or ill-judged campaign could backfire spectacularly.

We welcome any thoughts and comments below: