“Don’t rely on home advantage.” So uttered Michael Johnson, US sprinter and BBC pundit, last week. But if home advantage and national support are as vociferous as British Airways’ new campaigns, he might just have to reconsider.
Starting way back in April, BA set out to celebrate the best in British talent in all sectors, not just sport, with the arrival of the BA 2012 pop up venue in urban chic Shoreditch High Street. A stone’s throw from the Olympic venues of Stratford, the three-in-one art gallery, cinema and dining lounge was a novel way to showcase the work of Great Britons from culinary, dramatic and artistic backgrounds. A lucky trio working in these fields was mentored by BA London 2012 ambassadors Richard E Grant, Tracey Emin and Heston Blumenthal, with the resulting work displayed in the BA pod. Rasanna Purwanarajah, Pascal Anson and Simon Hulstone used their training to create Olympic Games themed work, including a short film, a ‘Dove’ artwork livery for celebratory aircraft and a five-star British food menu.
British Airways followed this with a good old-fashioned, flag-waving ad campaign. But what was not old-fashioned about this ad was its release on YouTube and Facebook ahead of television, leading to widespread sharing and discussion before it had even hit ‘the box’. Released to run amidst Euro 2012 coverage, this ad featured a twist on the typical ethos of a BA campaign, counter-intuitively asking people not to fly away during the games, and instead to stay at home to support Team GB.
To further emphasise the link between BA and the Games, BA is running a competition for Brits to win flights for family and friends abroad to join relatives in London for the Games. Again BA is seeking to make the point that London is the centre of world interest at the moment. Moreover, the BA Facebook page incorporated an app into the advert that allows viewers to make the BA advert feature their very own street. You can try it now or download the app.
To support all this activity, BA has also released some great branded content via YouTube and other online channels featuring Sir Clive Woodward, Denise Lewis and Michael Johnson. This serves as a collection of their thoughts on performing at home with Johnson recollecting his home experience at the Atlanta Games in 1996.
In conjunction with this BA has launched strong social media activity to capitalise on the Socialympics. The #HomeAdvantage hashtag has been tweeted to some effect already and the Games are still in their opening days.
And the campaign gets smarter still. The BA 2012 pop-up venue offered the average punter the chance to experience BA’s in-flight food and drink, entertainment and style, taking BA service to the High Street in the literal sense. Coupled with this, the ‘plane in your street’ gizmo seamlessly merges to give BA a distinctly home-based feel. In this way this activity is perfect for a summer in which national pride and identity are being celebrated.
Why we love it
BA’s staple marketing usually centres on encouraging people to fly, with British class albeit, to destinations abroad. That is why we love this campaign and the activations that support it. Not only is it a total inversion of the traditional feel of BA campaigns but such a well-executed one that it doesn’t feel at all awkward. With a confident tone and stunning creative, this was a high-risk move for BA. It would have been quite simple for BA to have run a campaign based on flying the people of world into London for the Games and fulfil the standard role of an airline sponsor. But it is has paid off to be bold. If brand rankings are anything to be believed, BA is sitting pretty at the top of the Olympic brand battle charts and the brand is sure to be prevalent in many minds ahead of the post-Olympic holidays that many will take.
So it’s hats-off from Synergy to some great activation work from the truly British Airways.
By Luke Auty on July 30th, 2012