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CREATIVE STRATEGY: BA = bad advertising?

"What's the idea?" For one of my favourite art directors, this is the worst accusation to be directed at a piece of a work, because, of course, what he means to say is: "I don't see any idea."

British Airways: airline's motto does not convince as a campaign theme

British Airways: airline's motto does not convince as a campaign theme

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His judgement came to mind when I saw the current campaign for British Airways. For an airline with multiple troubles, they haven't stinted on original photography or media space. On a typical commute, I'll see at least one 48-sheet and a full-page press ad. Among other items, the ads feature a heart, a baby and an orang-utan.

With visuals such as these, you may have already guessed that BA is going for an "Aaah!" factor. Tales of endangered species and women giving birth at 30,000 feet are the stuff of fluff.

It's all nicely written and stylishly art-directed. But what's the point?

If the campaign has a theme, it's the cap badge of the pilots and the motto: "To Fly. To Serve." So, in effect, BA is saying: "Please like us because we really do live and breathe our ethos."

Hmmm. Many friends and business acquaintances would beg to differ. In fact, amongst the latter group, many are still loyal members of the ABBA club – ABBA stands for Anyone But British Airways.

Certainly I'll be surprised if the current advertising refers directly to BA's cabin crew, who seem ready to walk out at the slightest hint that their cosy existence as overpaid waiting staff might ever be aligned with the real world of airline economics.

In the meantime, you can't blame the marketing department for doing something. But this campaign comes across as some rather bland PR disguised as advertising.

BA has not given me any concrete reasons why anyone would choose them over the other major carriers. That's not a good idea in my book, either.

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