BA aims to inspire consumers with 'mission' ad

British Airways has unveiled the ad it hopes will put "a stake in the ground" for its brand, designed to play up its mission "to serve" and its aviation heritage, after a debilitating period of strikes.

BA has taken the "To fly. To serve" motto from its coat of arms – a line which is also stitched into the BA uniform – to use as its strapline in a bid to boost pride in the brand for both staff and consumers. The strapline will be painted onto all BA aircraft.

The 90-second film was created by BBH and launched today (21 September) at 11am on Facebook, before airing on Channel 4 at 9pm tonight during 'Grand Designs'.

It is supported by print, outdoor and further digital activity that will include "making-of" films explaining the TV ad. Media buying is handled by Zenith Optimedia.

The film shows pilots from five eras of BA's history walking to their planes before taking off, from the pre-war period through to the BOAC period, and the airline as it is today. Thirteen working BA staff appear in the ad.

Print ads highlight the skills and services BA staff provide for consumers, including the transportation of organs for donors across the UK.

Frank Van Der Post, managing director, brands and customer experience at British Airways, said the brand did not need to "reinvent" itself, claiming that "BA has a unique style, but it wasn't celebrating it."

The campaign follows an internal communications campaign to re-engage staff with the brand, marking the first brand-led work in two years. The activity comes just months after BA reached an agreement with its cabin crew and the trade union Unite to stop further strike action, which grounded flights last year in a dispute that lasted nearly two years.

Van Der Post said the ad put a "stake in the ground" for the brand and that upcoming ads would focus on the airline's future. Abi Comber, head of brand engagement at BA, said the airline was already in the planning stages for its next Olympics campaign that would "help to bring the world to Great Britain".

BA is a tier-one sponsor of the London 2012 Olympic Games and released a press campaign focusing on the Games earlier this year, using the strapline: "They will fly".

The campaign is part of a £5bn investment plan to improve customer experience over the next five years, which has already included the introduction of iPads to flight staff and an iPhone app that consumers can use to download their boarding pass.

BA said it would also be launching a new app to allow people to book flights through their smartphones. 

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