Masterful British Airways Ad Campaign - To Fly. To Serve.

Just what makes an airline advertisement great?

That has been a topic of debate recently here on Live and Let's Fly and also on Frequently Flying.

I reject the notion that the most effective ads highlight a carrier's product, like United's nifty new business and first class lie-flat seats. Rather, ads the capture the imagination--aspirational ads that weave history and emotion together to encourage brand loyalty are the ads that I love and the ads that make me want to fly a certain carrier.

Check out British Airways's new "To Fly. To Serve." campaign:

I think we can all agree that this is an well-done ad, but will it sell seats? I say YES.

In fact, this ad is so compelling I am now going to set aside some of my British Airways miles for a trip in British Airways First Class. No joke.

There is no magic formula that makes an ad effective, but ads like the BA ad above and other ads I fancy like United's It's Time To Fly campaign really work for me more than Continental's bland ads.

How about you?


Brad October 28, 2011 at 02:33 pm

I really like this ad campaign. It certainly makes an impression, but I don't think it really changed my opinion of British Airways. I already had a pretty good opinion of them. I guess I'm a sucker for any airplane related advertisements. This campaign would have to be my favorite this year by far.

I'd certainly like to redeem for BA First some day, but I'm not sure when that would be. Their fuel surcharges have steered me elsewhere. I'm working on a post about what I did with my miles from the BA visa, and my flights are across the Pacific...

Fozz M October 28, 2011 at 02:39 pm

While I love the ad, the one thing that bugs me is the false advertising. They aren't flying the Concorde anymore, so why must they taunt me with it? ;)

TJ October 29, 2011 at 06:17 pm

They are using a Virgin aircraft in their campaign...tells you just how masterful it is! :)

Darren October 30, 2011 at 12:06 am

Now Matthew, I love these ads. They are impressionable, impactful and make you proud to fly. They're REAL. Actual "ad-vert-as-ments" with the power to pull your emotions into them. Perfect. Well done, British Airways.

Cartoons don't impress me. United can blow off with their cartoons and instead show me something like this. Impress me. Inspire me. Make me want to fly.

Now, the problem with American television is the timing. Can you do what BA did in 30 seconds? 15 seconds? Possibly, but it would take a lot more than a stupid cartoon to convince me.

United's old ads still repel me. Continental currently goes for the "tag line" hot marketing push... the immediacy of why you buy an airline ticket. Is there a middle ground? Yes. While I'd like to see the product, an airline can also effectively promote the thrill of travel as BA has done in this advert.

You're right... no one can come up with a perfect campaign, but let's get real about it. American airlines' ads suck. Well, I take that back. Southwest has a pretty effective campaign going and although annoying, they highlight "no baggage fees." Pretty effective for the kettle flyer.

For the legacy carriers with a true premium product, SHOW IT OFF, or at least do something like BA has done and inspire us to travel... but do it in less than 30 seconds, of course.

Cristian December 17, 2011 at 05:25 pm

The commercial is ham-handed. I find it one of the most annoying, self-glorifying commercials on television. I wouldn't care if I never saw it again. In fact, I hope I never do see it again.

@Cristian, with respect, I very much disagree.

I seriously love this ad campaign. Three years later, it still inspires.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.