BA forced to pull ads in face of staff shortage problems

LONDON - British Airways has pulled a large chunk of its advertising in light of the staffing problems at Heathrow that caused it to cancel dozens of flights this week.

The airline pulled TV and radio advertising on Monday after contacting its creative agency, M&C Saatchi, and media agency, ZenithOptimedia, as soon as the problem became serious.

ZenithOptimedia has negotiated with media owners over how much of the cost of the media space BA will have to shoulder.

Problems with a shortage of ground staff at Heathrow led to the cancellation of around 50 services from Terminal One on Monday and the scrapping of services from the terminal on Tuesday.

BA cancelled the advertising because it felt it would be inappropriate to trumpet its services while thousands of its passengers were delayed. However, some outdoor and press advertising, highlighting price promotions, remained in place.

BA's marketers and agencies had been meeting regularly about putting contingency plans in place in case workers pressed ahead with proposed strike action. In the event, the action was avoided, but sources at the airline said this planning helped it to pull its advertising amid the staff shortages.

While BA does not want to offend passengers, it plans to reignite its advertising next week because of the competitive threat from rivals.

Its current campaign is spearheaded by an M&C Saatchi TV ad that features a businessman and his family on either sides of the world to the accompaniment of classical music.

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