British Airways pens love letter to UK with help from Olivia Colman and Anthony Joshua

This is airline's first brand campaign in six years.

British Airways is marking its centenary with a love letter to Britain delivered by a cast including Olivia Colman, Anthony Joshua, Gary Oldman and Riz Ahmed.

This is the airline’s first brand campaign since 2012’s "Don’t fly" in support of the London Olympic Games and Team GB. The ad kicks off a year-long programme for British Airways’ 100th birthday.

Created by Ogilvy UK, "Made by Britain" spotlights people who have helped shape culture and represent British values: pioneering, creative, open-minded and welcoming.

The film begins with cabin crew, pilots, engineers and passengers preparing for flight BA100. Celebrities take their seats on the plane alongside people from all walks of life, all recounting the characteristics that they believe make Britain a special place.

The stars who appear include actors Ahmed, Colman and Oldman; athletes Nicola Adams, Joshua and Ellie Simmonds; musicians David Bowie (shown through archived film footage) and Paloma Faith; contemporary artist Grayson Perry; anthropologist Jane Goodall; chef and TV presenter Matilda Ramsay; and Helen Sharman, the first Briton in space.

The ad concludes with the message "We love you Britain. You make us who we are" and the endline: "British Airways. Made by Britain."

It was created by Andy Forrest and Nicola Wood, and directed by Park Pictures’ Tom Tagholm, who previously shot Channel 4’s multi-award-winning "Meet the superhumans" campaign in 2012. Wavemaker is the media agency.

The TV spot will debut on ITV1 and Channel 4 simultaneously at 9:30pm tonight (Friday). Advertising will also span cinema, social media, video-on-demand, national press and digital out-of-home.

British Airways has a year of activity planned around its birthday, such as compiling a list of 100 people shaping modern Britain. It will host BA 21119, a series of events exploring the future of flying, with content focused on sustainable aviation fuels, careers and customer experience.

The airline will also introduce various changes as part of its ongoing £6.5bn investment programme, such as delivering 15 new aircrafts and unveiling new lounges, fitting Wi-Fi across its short-haul fleet and refreshing its on-board services.

This is the first major British Airways work by Ogilvy UK since the agency won the business in 2017. Dede Laurentino, Ogilvy UK's chief creative officer, said the campaign intends to look forward to the future rather than only reflecting on the past.

"The timeline for [the brand] is 200 years, and we just happen to be in the middle," he said.

The entire cast was filmed together over a number of days in locations including Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5, a British Airways 787 plane and a village in Scotland.

The concept of British values may be hotly contested now with Brexit looming, but Hamish McVey, head of brands and marketing at British Airways, said the campaign aims to celebrate British people and culture while avoiding the current political turmoil.

"We’ve let the politicians deal with the politics. We’re steering clear of that," he added.

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