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British Airways' new brand campaign delivers vision for the airline's next chapter

September 21, 2011

British Airways will unveil a multi-million pound brand campaign – its biggest in a decade - to launch the next chapter in the airline’s history.

Keith Williams, British Airways’ CEO, said: “This is a very important week in British Airways’ history. We have come through difficult times as a stronger, leaner organisation and now we’re investing more than £5 billion over the next five years in improving what we offer to our customers. Our new campaign is a symbol of our confidence and uses our coat of arms and its motto, To Fly. To Serve. This phrase has real meaning and resonance for today. It describes the purpose of British Airways. It encapsulates our expertise for flying and our commitment to customer service. It underlines how we are putting the customer at the heart of everything we do.”

Frank van der Post, British Airways’ managing director, brands and customer experience, said: “This campaign has real substance. Not only are we investing heavily in tangible improvements to the customer experience, earlier this year we launched an internal programme to engage with our staff. We’re working with our cabin crew, listening to their views and giving them tools, such as iPads, to enable them to deliver even better service. The technology teams are working to deliver more customer-friendly improvements to our website and apps. The airport team is developing more services for premium customers. The catering team is revamping the menus and the wines. All these changes are being delivered now and we have even more plans for the future. The whole airline is delivering on our promise, To Fly. To Serve.”

In a first for British Airways the 90-second ad, developed by the airline’s retained agency, BBH, will premiere on British Airways’ Facebook site: at 11am on September 21. This follows an online ‘teaser’ campaign over recent weeks, which culminates with the TV version on September 19, 20 and 21 on Channel 4.

The advert, which features thirteen British Airways staff, showcases British Airways’ dedication to flying since the first aviators took to the skies in the 1920s. A succession of pilots “who skimmed the edge of space, the edge of heaven, the edge of dreams” are shown through the ages until the British Airways of today. The advert finishes with the endline: To Fly. To Serve. – the airline’s motto from its coat of arms, which is stitched into the lining of every BA uniform.

This is the first time the airline has used social media to premiere an advert. Its television debut will take place on Channel 4 during Grand Designs’ first advert break. It will almost simultaneously run on E4, More4, Film 4 and 4OD. This will be followed by slots in programmes such as Xfactor, Downton Abbey, the Rugby World Cup and UEFA Champions League. Slots will include a 90 second launch and then 60 second breaks. Media has been bought and planned by Zenith Optimedia.

The TV advert will run alongside a national print campaign introducing To Fly. To Serve. The airline’s ability to handle precious cargo is highlighted using images of an orang-utan and a human heart. Another focuses on the fact that British Airways engineers have an average of 20 years experience each and there’s a new apprentice programme under way. The final execution focuses on the level of medical training that BA gives to their staff including how to ensure a safe birth in the air. The campaign will be seen at Heathrow and Gatwick in British Airways long term holding sites and also 96 and 48 sheet outdoor and digital sites.

BBH also developed a number of films for use with online communities. These include a teaser ad which was first viewed on September 5, various edits of the advert aimed at the flying enthusiast, fashion and advertising/CGI communities, as well as a ‘making of’ film.

British Airways’ in-house social media team have worked with BBH to seed the content to relevant audiences. BEING London created the Facebook hub, digital assets and Youtube design.

Abigail Comber, British Airways’ head of brand engagement, said: “People don’t just buy what you are, they buy who you are. It is this that drives the link between great service brands and their customers. We believe that “To Fly. To Serve.” will resonate with viewers, our customers and our staff and will reignite real pride in the British Airways brand.”

Nigel Bogle, Chairman of BBH, said: “We want to redefine what air travel should be all about with this campaign, sharing BA’s passion for flying and reconfirming its unsurpassed brilliance at what it does. To Fly. To Serve is the embodiment of that promise.”

The coat of arms has also been carefully redesigned and updated for use today by British Airways’ design management team, and design agency, Forpeople.