The promise of the journey is separated from the horror of the flight

Skift grip

Here’s the bad news, which is the reality: the horror of flight these days has NOTHING to do with the creative promise of travel portrayed throughout this campaign’s brilliant copy.

Rafat Ali

Let’s start with the positives: British Airways has launched a new series of campaigns called ‘A British Original’, bringing back memories of its iconic advertising campaigns over the decades.

This month-long campaign from BA Uncommon’s creative agency features 500 different print, digital and outdoor executions and over 32 different short films, all under 30 seconds. At first glance, it really is a brilliant, minimalist creation, which really shows the power of leaning into the emotions that travel evokes, through succinct and powerful copy.

As the agency describes: β€œThe new positioning, ‘A British Original’, is a celebration of the people of British Airways, its customers and the nation, which has helped make British Airways a British Original. It explores the individual and original reasons why people travel, whether to reconnect with loved ones, take time off, or immerse themselves in another culture.

The campaign hook? β€œThe campaign centers on the question frequently asked of travelers when they land in a new destination: ‘What is the purpose of your visit?’ but instead of ticking the standard ‘business’ or ‘leisure’ boxes, viewers see more meaningful and travel-relevant responses, reflecting each of us. Β»

Examples of reasons to travel include “Because I have too much on my plate, no seafood” and “To feed the social flow”.

Let’s continue with the good part: this campaign will win tons of creative rewards. Congratulations, the agency and the client!

Now here’s the bad news, which is the reality: the horror of flight these days has NOTHING to do with the creative promise of travel outlined above and throughout the campaign. Airlines, including BA, have really exhausted their QE well this year, whichever part of the trio of airlines, airports and governments you want to blame.

Has anyone from the agency’s creative team flown this summer on BA, or anywhere at airports in BA’s home country? Has anyone paused while crafting this campaign and said it out loud: Well, that doesn’t seem like the reality of flying right now, does it? ?

Yes, this creation sells the promise of travel incredibly well, especially as the world is starting to travel again in droves after the big pandemic break. But does it evoke better feelings towards BA? Will it sell everything this campaign is supposed to sell: seats, or will it create a better brand image for BA? You also can’t divorce this campaign from the broader day-to-day realities of flying this year, especially in a country that has become the laughing stock of the world all year, on virtually every front, including aviation.

Don’t just take my harsh words, a back-to-basics dissection of this campaign comes from longtime airline marketing veteran Colin Lewis:

Here’s one way BA could potentially be successful with this: it’s a PR campaign, not an advertising campaign and, as Colin said, it’s probably coming from the communications side of the marketing team . This campaign will generate a lot of PR and rewards, but little in terms of marketing for the airline, not even raising it into consideration unless the actual product and experience magically changes within weeks and months to come and word of mouth spreads.

Flying outside of premium class these days has more in common with retail, not with the promise of travel, and airlines that forget that without delivering just have to blame themselves- even when they break the promise that shouldn’t have been promised to begin with.

This comment on one of the campaign ads on YouTube should have the final say:

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