I’ve witnessed an interesting juxtaposition today between the UK’s two leading airlines. One is working hard to shake off its old image as it moves up market while the other is proudly showing off its heritage with a revival of brandings from bygone eras.
This morning I was at the World Low Cost Airlines Congress where EasyJet CEO Carolyn McCall underlined EasyJet’s ambition to be “Europe’s preferred short-haul airline” (above). She talked about her push to grow revenue from business passengers and unveiled a new service guarantee which will provide free flights to compensate premimum passengers for delays (below). There was even the admission that an orange FFP could materialise “if it could be done in an EasyJet way”.
For that read “cost-effective” or “thrifty” – but there’s no denying the airline is shifting towards the middle ground as it matures through its teenage years. That said, Carolyn is adamant she’s not abandoning the airline’s low-cost roots where anything that adds to operational complexity is taboo.
Then this afternoon I was in the glamorous surroundings of BAFTA at its headquarters on Piccadilly. Here, British Airways CEO Keith Williams unveiled the launch of the airline’s biggest marketing campaign for a decade, which it says “backs the £5 billion being spent on customer products and services over the next five years”.
While not a rebranding per se, the high profile marketing campaign centres upon a re-enforcement of BA’s heritage as a full-service, global and pioneering flag carrier, so it’s no surprise that there is a return of the old coat of arms. This dates back to the early days of BA but was brought to the fore in the halcyon days of Lord King in the so-called “Landor scheme” era that began in the mid-1980s. And with the crest comes a revival of the slogan: “To Fly. To Serve.”
The centrepiece of the campaign is a retro-style television advert, “Aviators“, which incorporates elements from nine decades of history of the airline and its predecessors. The 90 second production includes iconic aircraft such as the Douglas DC-3, de Havilland Dragon Rapide (below), Vickers VC10 (bottom) and of course Concorde, as well as a DH51 pretending to be an AT&T DH9A from 1919. Heritage brands the like of BEA and BOAC are much in evidence, as is BA’s now very fashionable original red-tail “Negus & Negus” scheme of the 1970s.
The new TV ad is a wonderful piece of cinematography – albeit with the odd historical anachronism (see if you can spot any!). BA tells me it was filmed at Heathrow, Duxford, Brooklands and the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden. Some of it was created using real metal and some by CGI.
The TV ad will run alongside a print campaign, and will debut at 11:00 on 21 September on Facebook and then on Channel 4 later that day. The coat of arms logo will be applied to the fuselages of all BA’s aircraft but sadly the airline says that there are currently no plans for a repeat of retro style paint jobs like the one used last year to mark the end of Boeing 757 operations.
So while BA’s mood goes all reflective, EasyJet is looking to its next evolution. Well let’s face it, there’s little chance at this juncture of the orange brigade reviving images of their original icon – Mr Haji-Ioannou – for a bit of nostalgic advertising!