British Airways – don’t fly this summer (but if you do, fly BA)

by Stratton Craig

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If you work in London, the last thing you want to hear about is the Olympics (sorry, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games). Based in Southwark, we’re already planning our escape routes to avoid the Jubilee line and we’ve no doubt Barclays will be pleased to hear we’ll be jumping on their handy bikes.
For months we’ve been surrounded by messages to support GB (not to mention hourly reminders to ‘Get ahead of the games’). But one message that has stayed in my mind is the British Airways ‘Don’t Fly’ ad. The message ‘Don’t Fly. Support Team GB’ works. With just five words I’m thinking ‘forget Virgin, I’m flying BA’.
It’s amazing how a slightly receding, good old British brand can lighten the mood and change perceptions, simply by changing their tone and appealing to the British sense of humour – we all like a bit of tongue in cheek. And BA have gone one step further, launching an interactive version, which allows people to type in their postcodes and see their own street through the window of the aircraft as it makes its way to east London.
What a brilliant way to make people smile. There are no glossy images of beautiful air hostesses and chiselled pilots or sun-soaked beaches. Just five simple words that capture the heart of a nation.
It reminds us again of Hemingway’s fantastic six-word story, ‘For sale: Baby shoes, never worn’. Something we often use in our brand language workshops. It’s amazing what people come up with when under pressure and how creative you can be with only a few words. Why say something with 20 words when you can have much more impact with five?

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