MEDIA ANALYSIS: BRAND SPEND ANALYSIS - British Airways posts a soaring adspend in its bid to attract the high flyers

British Airways is one of the UK’s biggest advertisers, spending almost pounds 20 million in the nine months to August 1999.

British Airways is one of the UK’s biggest advertisers, spending

almost pounds 20 million in the nine months to August 1999.

BA, which is planned by Sarah Horn at Walker Media and bought by

Optimedia, has used all the key media this year. Almost half of its

media spend (pounds 9.51 million) went on TV, followed by press with a

healthy pounds 4.5 million, direct mail with pounds 2.4 million and

outdoor with pounds 2.19 million. Radio picked up only pounds 700,000.

It is also active in the affinity advertising market, with associations

ranging from its financial services link with Diners Club to its

promotion of regional airports.

Adspend is spread fairly evenly over 1999, although there were clear

peaks in July, March and May and a sharp drop in April. In March, total

spend reached pounds 3.9 million, in May it was pounds 3.87 million

(with pounds 1.8 million spent on press) and in July it was pounds 4.2


Press spend fluctuated due to seasonal and promotion factors such as

seat sales and discounted tickets for affinity partners like


The Times, The Sunday Times, Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday led the

way in terms of share of adspend. But budgets were actually spread

across a whole range of titles. Travel Trade Gazette got an impressive

pounds 95,368 but even this was eclipsed by Travel Weekly which landed

pounds 149,739.

BA’s adspend is spread across a wide range of products and services,

with more than 100 different advertising themes tracked (and supported

by spend) from January to August.

General corporate advertising aside, the main services advertised by BA

during 1999 included its ’new approach’ (18 per cent of adspend),

international routes (13 per cent), world offers (9 per cent), and

premium seats, including Concorde (4.6 per cent). Much of BA’s

advertising is regional, reflecting its promotion of local airports as

well as specific routes, and overall the airline seems to have a

sophisticated media usage and strategy.

The relatively high expenditure on premium travel reflects BA’s stated

strategy in 1999 to position itself towards the business and first-class

traveller. This approach has encouraged rival carriers to run ’knocking

copy’ ads aimed at winning over disgruntled economy-class


BA’s focus on premium class was also reflected in its September

announcement of a pounds 50 million programme to improve its Club Europe

product and an offer in May to British businesses of some pounds 200

million-worth of business flights.

This aspect of BA’s ad strategy seems to be working with a 3 per cent

rise in premium traffic in August, but this must be set against a

background of relatively poor profit performance. The ad campaign seems

to have worked but it remains to be seen whether the strategy behind the

campaign was the right one.

Research by Media Monitoring Services, tel: 01763-245151

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