British Airways turns to ‘boldness’ in challenging environment

British Airways turns to ‘boldness’ in challenging environment
The Media Plan

British Airways’ latest brand campaign has leaned heavily on AV and influencers as part of its strategy centred on “bold originality” and “meaningful connection”.

These were “the most important factors in determining channel tactics” for the launch of British Airways’ first long-format AV asset in some time, according to Glenn Burchnall, executive director at MG OMD which planned the campaign.

Activity ran across TV, video-on-demand (VOD), cinema, YouTube, OOH, podcasts, paid social and social influencers, and centred on the sentiment of “everywhere we go makes us everything we are”.

The brand campaign aimed to increase consideration of British Airways in “a progressively challenging environment”; namely pent-up demand from the Covid-19 pandemic settling down, increasing price sensitivity as a result of the cost-of-living crisis, and low-cost carriers having “aggressive growth plans” in 2024.

Media planning was by MG OMD and Molly Sharp, the Omnicom media agency’s strategy director, told The Media Leader: “British Airways wouldn’t be able to compete on share of voice alone. We knew British Airways’ efforts to build brand prominence and increase consideration of a premium positioning was going to have to work as hard as possible to make every pound disproportionately impactful.”

Growth audiences

The idea was to use media to provide “disproportionate impact” to adspend, informed by effectiveness principles and centred on channels and behaviours which allowed the brand to “show up in bold and original ways and create meaningful connections with growth audiences”.

This translated to showing up in media “as confidently as possible” with “big bold formats and body language”, combined with creativity in media planning and innovative activations.

Sharp added: “Through smart data application and carefully curated partnerships, we had a chance to tap into some of the audiences where we knew we had greater headroom to drive efficient consideration. This was predominantly in multicultural audiences, where we also had a desire to better nuance our comms to show up as a modern British brand that reflects a modern Britain.”

MG OMD “thought hard” how to elevate each media touchpoint on the plan, with an emotive AV asset and “hero elements” including an exclusive ad premiere in Channel 4’s Gogglebox, key whistle breaks in the Six Nations, Topview and Topfeed placements on TikTok across launch weekend plus key iconic OOH sites such as the Piccadilly Lights.

Broad reach with individual experience

Even though the campaign had national coverage, partnerships with Acast and an influencer strategy allowed British Airways to tap into influencers and hosts who could speak to personal travel experiences that were authentic and relevant for audiences.

Sharp explained: “We knew from integrated planning early on in the process that recognising our audiences’ individuality was a key consideration that would inform both creative and media, and the message of “everywhere we go makes us everything we are” had a lot of potential to become more meaningful the more nuance we managed to bake into the message using media extensions.”

She added that media played “an important role in enabling nuance” through these partnerships but working at building brand prominence “had to happen to the widest possible audience”, so the base plan that was “as wide reaching as possible”, but representing all the areas of the UK, with hero OOH placements across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Measurement across channels

MG’s effectiveness and strategy team has a measurement approach with British Airways across channels including brand lift studies, YouGov Brand Ad Awareness tracking and One Pulse surveys.

In addition to internal campaign reporting, MG OMD established the Channel 4 ad break premiere reached 3.3m ABC1 adults and its One Pulse survey showed half of respondents rated the ad between 4-5 stars.

The ad also ran during the Manchester United & Liverpool match which drew the biggest audience of the year on TV with 8.6m tuning in. The team saw a 73% uplift in ad awareness compared to the same period last year.

The Media Plan: This regular feature is part of Strategy LeadersThe Media Leader’s commitment to showcasing excellence in media planning and creativity. 

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