In my car this morning, I heard a 30-second ad on my local radio station 2-Ten FM from British Airways which talked about the average time experienced by specific passengers when they checked in for a flight at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 yesterday.
You might recall the disaster of Terminal 5 when it opened in March: baggage system failure, scenes on TV of passengers sleeping on the floor, cancelled flights… a complete fiasco and a public relations disaster not to mention the ongoing and negative reputation impact.
Things very clearly have dramatically improved since then, and my own experience when I first flew from T5 in June was excellent (mind you, I didn’t check any baggage!).
The radio ad I heard is one part of an advertising campaign BA is running – embracing print, newspaper and radio ads – which (in my interpretation of it) seeks to illustrate how well the terminal is working according to the passengers using it and thus will hopefully bolster the airline’s reputation.
As I discovered on BA’s Terminal 5 website, there’s a new section that has some nice photos of the passengers concerned with text talking about the time it takes to get through check-in.
The Wall Street Journal has a good write-up on the logistics of the overall campaign in which everything – print ads, radio ads, etc – is turned around in less than a day, every day of the campaign.
The WSJ has an interesting quote from BA:
[…] The campaign carries a risk for the airline: What if something goes wrong again? British Airways said its answer will be to fess up.
“We would use the opportunity to talk about what we are doing to resolve it,” said Katherine Whitton, British Airways’ general manager of global marketing communications. “We wanted to go out with a campaign that doesn’t set up big emotional promises.”
Sounds a good idea although they could start talking about it now (why wait for a crisis?) and really engage with people using a social media tool like a blog. Perhaps posts with opinion and thoughts of some of the folk involved in the campaign talking about their hopes and fears, running parallel with the campaign itself.
Now that could be right in the area of not setting up “big emotional promises.”
Look at what BA subsidiary Open Skies has been doing with their blog – some refreshingly believable and personal opinion in there, not the equivalent of press releases and other controlled and remote corporate speak.
And I wonder how effective the ad campaign will really be. It’s very slick with stage-managed and nicely polished photos portraying happy and smiling travellers against a backdrop of interiors of an impressive-looking airline terminal.
Will people really find this believable? I don’t want to be overly-critical about what BA’s trying to achieve, but it seems to me that these happy-traveller portrayals shown in the posters and print ads lack that sense of authenticity and genuineness.
Still, as a regular flyer with BA and a long-time Executive Club member, I wish them every success.