Terminal decline?

28 Sep 2011|Added Value

BA. Two little letters that have for much of my travelling life meant – Brilliant, Actually. The age old British welcome at the door of the plane. The natty little ‘daaa-da-da-da’ jingle. The gentle sizzle of the Schweppes in my G&T. The folded Daily Telegraph. The magic of BA that signals the end of ‘Being Away’ and the first welcome step towards home.

That is, until recently. How the mighty BA seems to have fallen, hoist by its own communications petard, much to the bright delight of the Easyjetset and those vestal Virginites.

That new, disappointing BA ad campaign. Phurrrrrr. It’s hard to know where to start with what’s gone wrong. Could it be the internal desperation to ‘get our staff on side again’ which has been reflected so obviously? Could it be the direly unimaginative print executions, seen decades ago in every sector from watch adverts to Peroni beer? Could it be the embarrassingly misogynistic treatment of the women, mere mothers and flight attendants admiring their moustachioed male bastions? Could it be the culturally insensitive focus on weaponry & war cues at the expense of the magical consumer travel experience?

What it is, is a classic example of strategy leaping directly into execution, without passing Go and without collecting the £200 pounds for my next mini break, as a result. It’s a leap of faith that many brand owners often hope will springboard them to firm ground, but which more frequently drops them in the drink – a move for an airline especially to avoid.

Between strategy and execution has to lie a transitional space – one which we call expression. It’s where the ‘What’ of a brand is seamlessly merged with a clear ‘How’. This creates a stronger, truer brand character – richer and more rounded, as well as more firmly grounded in the culture in which it seeks to stand out and thrive. This tightly defined expression is honed and road tested to see, as in the case of BA, if it might fly. Without it, you’re heading for a train – or plane – crash, and it’s why its central to any brand positioning, in our aerial view.

Having missed this critical step, at a time when BA needed to surprise and delight, it has only succeeded in alienating and boring its long term loyalists and potential new flyers alike. Little wonder that the seductive ‘it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day’ of Virgin is working its enticing magic, while the BA man-planes grind their spinning engine gears.

BA. Boringly Anodyne. Bitterly Annoying. Brashly Anachronistic and sadly of no interest until a brand character that you’d like to get in bed with at 20,000 feet finally comes along.

Written by Scotty Hawkes, Director, Added Value UK


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