Profile: Jeremy Gilley

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BA hopes brand campaign will restore lustre

British Airways (BA) is adopting its coat of arms motto “To fly. To serve” as the underpinning for a brand campaign that will be a “stake in the ground” for the airline.

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Imagery from the teaser ad British Airways previewed on Facebook

The new campaign breaks on social media tomorrow and make its television debut on Channel 4 during Grand Designs. BBH and OgilvyOne have worked on the activity.

It targets premium passengers with a message of trust and reassurance drawing on BA’s heritage. The 90 second ad pays tribute to the early aviators and those pilots who followed them and “skimmed the edge of dreams.”

BA has a job to do to restore a brand reputation that has taken knocks from the fumbled opening of Heathrow Terminal 5 in 2008 and a near two-year-long industrial dispute with cabin crew that reached an agreement in June this year.

It also has to reassure passengers that its merger with Iberia under holding company the International Airline Group (IAG) in January has not affected its levels of service and identity.

The airline is investing £5 bn in improving its offer to customers across services from introducing new aircraft to overhauling catering and new technology for ticketing. Improvements include iPads for senior cabin crew to give instant access to passenger details and the ability for fliers to print out their own luggage labels at Gatwick.

BA will launch a new feature for iPhones allowing ticket booking via mobile.

Managing director, brands and customer experience Frank van der Post says: “British Airways is a every strong brand. We do not need to reinvent ourselves as something else. What we do need to do is tell out story a little louder.

Van der Post, who joined BA from hotel and resorts company Jumeirah Group, says: “BA has a unique style to it. A very British style - but it has not been celebrating it. It’s not great at recognising what it is good at.”

The campaign will extend in to print executions that show how far BA goes in customer service, from emphasising the crew’s medical training to carrying endangered species (see “Related Files” below for the full imagery).

There will also be an extensive social media campaign that will further explore the stories of modern-day BA pilots and crew. Van der Post says: “A big TV spot is essential and engaging and the right place for a piece of brand advertising but there’s an awful lot more you can give people who want to interact with you.”

BA has implemented an internal engagement programme to help inspire pride in the brand.

IAG’s first half results showed a swing to profit of £34m compared to a loss of £267m year on year with the turnaround partly attributed to a rise in premium travellers.

Readers' comments (4)

  • A big thing was made about launching this on social media as opposed to TV. According to their Facebook page at 11am, just over 1100 people had signed up to watch the premiere.

    Some launch that.

    On the plus side, at least they are coupling the campaign with investment in real customer benefits to help you choose BA over someone else.

    Maybe the spot should have concentrated on them instead?

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  • Not sure any of the three ads displayed highlight the real customer benefit. 2 are extreme cases and the 3rd promoting the fact that the engineer knows the engine is to be expected surely. Less about you BA, more about us your customers.

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  • Saw this last night, have to confess it felt like a mix between a Virgin Airlines advert and something Honda would dream up. Pretty but not the most powerful thing we've seen...

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  • I know everything is so much easier in hindsight, but you guys must really feel stupid. The campaign has gone on to prove a major success, and has succeeded in re-shaping BA's image and brand equity. I don't hope any of you hold any major positions relating to marketing, PR or the likes.

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