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: