NEWS: Virgin makes joke of proposed BA merger

Virgin Atlantic has unveiled the hardest hitting ad yet in its assault on British Airways.

Virgin Atlantic has unveiled the hardest hitting ad yet in its assault

on British Airways.

The latest execution comes in the form of a quiz called ‘Two Bob

Doubletalk’, which appeared as a double-page spread in national

newspapers this week.

The ad, created by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe in collaboration with

the Virgin boss, Richard Branson, presented a series of quotations from

Bob Ayling, the chief executive of British Airways, and Bob Crandall,

the president of American Airlines.

BA and AA are negotiating an alliance which is being investigated by the

Office of Fair Trading. The OFT must decide whether or not to refer the

deal to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. Virgin is stepping up

pressure for the referral as the decision becomes imminent.

The ad invites readers to guess which Bob said what from declarations

including ‘The dominant position of BA stifles competition’ and ‘If the

British want a deal, it will have to be pretty much on US terms’. Media

on the campaign is through Manning Gottlieb Media.

Will Whitehorn, Virgin’s corporate affairs director, said: ‘We want to

make people aware of the inconsistent nonsense that has been talked

about the proposed merger.’

Michael Blunt, head of news at BA, defended the ‘doublespeak’ by saying

that, as the rules change, so do the positions of the airline bosses. ‘I

am surprised that Virgin is spending so much money on this campaign,’ he


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