IPA Effectiveness Awards 2004: Silver Award - British Airways


Campaign: Climbing Above The Turbulence

Client: British Airways

Agencies: ZenithOptimedia, M&C Saatchi

Principal authors: Rob Day, ZenithOptimedia; Richard Storey, M&C

Saatchi; Andy Edwards, M&C Saatchi

With contributions from: Ninah Consulting

Media used: TV, interactive, print, press, outdoor, radio, ambient


The list of events to shake British Airways since the turn of the millennium reads like a Hollywood disaster movie: September 11, Sars, war in Afghanistan and Iraq and spiralling insurance and fuel costs. Not to mention the onslaught of airlines offering short-haul European flights for less than the price of a taxi ride.

As a result, the airline dropped out of the FTSE 100, and suffered the humiliation of a "junk bond" credit rating.

But rather than bail out of Europe, BA believed it had to battle to survive.

If it turned its back on its short-haul service, the company figured, its premium long-haul operation would be next to suffer.

It took on the budget airlines at their own game, competing on price, but also using its strong service heritage to its advantage. Research showed that consumers wanted "services that matter", such as centrally located airports, back-up aircraft and allocated seating, as long as the price wasn't out of their reach.

At the core of BA's communications planning was the element of surprise.

Beginning in September 2002, it bought typically "un-BA" media such as street projections and ATM screens, backing up its commercials.

As the authors went to press, BA posted increased profits of £230 million (between April 2003 and March 2004) and has re-established itself as a FTSE-100 company.

The judges' view

BA re-engineered its value offering and communication strategy, exposing the false promise of "no frills" and creating awareness of BA's lower prices.

The campaign not only re-set the value agenda by reframing the competition, it also delivered £1.70 in revenue for every £1 spent. Most importantly, though, it helped to safeguard BA's standing among its staff, the City and in Europe.

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