I used to live in West London. I lived on the 7th floor of a building and could lie in bed and watch the aircraft on final approach to Heathrow. I reached a point where “you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all” but that wasn’t true when (given this was the late 90s) Concorde came into land. It looked amazing; it sounded different and just represented something special in aviation terms.
When I visited New York for the first time I was lucky enough to go on board one of the decommissioned Concorde’s which was at the time on display near USS Intrepid at Pier 86. It was surprisingly small but still looked amazing. The obvious affection the aircraft was held in was reflected by the messages left by crew (air & ground alike) on various parts of the fuselage.
What’s brought this to mind? British Airways have recently launched a new advertising campaign entitled “To Fly. To Serve”. If you haven’t seen the advert I’ve linked it below. It depicts the journey through passenger aviation from Imperial Airways, to BOAC, to a modern 747-400 and of course Concorde. Sadly, I believe all the Concordes had their engines removed after being taken out of service so the shots of the Concorde flying are computer generated. In my opinion it’s a very effective film which deserves a nod to all involved especially BBH whose creative work drove it.
You may be wondering why I am writing about it? There are several reasons:
The first is I am a British Airways customer (clinging on to my frequent flyer card for dear life and trying to get consulting gigs that need flights!!) and have spent many hours on their aircrafts and had some great experiences and some not so great experiences.
The second is I think this campaign reflects the changed times (as do many others) in that it was initially launched (I think) on YouTube and the brand are actively engaging on social media with those commenting about it (I have had 2 different tweets from 2 different BA Twitter accounts). So in addition to the TV and website exposure, the brand are ‘landing’ (pardon the pun) the work and driving the engagement very actively. There are also a number of supporting and complimentary videos around the core video shown above.
The third and to me most significant reason is I think it’s a strong piece of corporate communication. Yes, it’s a strong piece of advertising but advertising to me always implies a sales message and it certainly seems focussed at that but there is more.
To me the core message of “To Fly. To Serve” is an empowering statement to the customers of the airline. I can picture a scene on board an aircraft if someone is not getting what they want they may well invoke this statement in questioning the customer experience. Now I can also picture a scene where it is glibly thrown at some poor cabin crew member but to me the idea of empowering your customers to hold you to the standard you profess is very powerful.
There is also a very clear statement of values to the employees of British Airways. I can imagine there are some who having seen (or been involved in the making of, which was a nice touch) the film have felt a real pride in the organisation they work for and it has empowered or maybe even inspired them to live up to the message. Likewise, I can imagine a few jaded individuals shrugging their shoulders and with eyes raised to heaven, cursing management or marketing and maybe just maybe this will set a bar that proves too high for them.
In a time when the economy is woeful and competition rife it is pleasing to me to see a British brand investing in such an effective piece of multi faceted communication that harks back to the days of “the world’s favourite airline”
No BA miles or Tier Points were exchanged for the writing of this blog!!